ROME, April 29 (UPI) -- There is a small window of opportunity to deliver critical food assistance to vulnerable people in North Korea, the U.N. World Food Program said.
WFP announced it was launching an emergency plan to respond to the estimated 3.5 million people identified as vulnerable to food security issues in North Korea.
WFP officials said North Korea is short on food because of a rough winter, crop loss and the inability to get cereal supplies from outside countries.
The WFP program lasts for one year and includes delivery for staple food supplies through a North Korean public distribution system. WFP staff members have scheduled more than 400 visits to North Korea with only 24-hours notice required.
"We face a critical window to get supplies into the country and reach the millions who are already hungry," said WFP Chief Operating Officer Amir Abdulla in a statement. "Our primary concern is for those who are most vulnerable to shocks in the food supply -- children, mothers, the elderly and large families."
WFP said government rations from the North Korean government meet only about half of the daily food needs of its people.