North Koreans work in the fields near the North Korean city Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Soil degradation due to intensive cultivation has been one of many problems in the country’s agriculture. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- The United Nations has assigned $8 million in aid to North Korea from its Central Emergency Response Fund.
The U.N. decision to provide emergency relief to North Korea is part of a larger aid package that is pledging a total of $100 million to other countries, including Mali, Burundi and Libya, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.
North Korea is the only Asian state on the list of the nine countries singled out for humanitarian aid.
CERF began its aid program in 2006 to meet the needs of countries in crisis.
North Korea is also under heavy U.N. sanctions because of its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons development. On Wednesday, the Security Council condemned Pyongyang for launching a series of mid-range ballistic missiles in April and May and for diverting resources away from humanitarian support.
One South Korean estimate concluded Pyongyang could have used the $80 million that went toward ballistic missile tests to supplying people with 50 days of food
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, North Koreans are seriously malnourished and 18 million people are still susceptible to food shortages.
Food insecurity is responsible for chronic malnutrition and poor health, and North Korea's food shortage stems from long-running issues in the country's agriculture, which include insufficient arable land, soil degradation due to intensive cultivation and scarcity of quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
"Climate change-driven shocks" have also led to dry spells and seasonal floods, according to the U.N. agency.
Pyongyang's increased provocations, however, may be playing a role in the general decrease in U.N. aid over the years. North Korea was given $15 million in support in 2011, but that number dropped to $6 million by 2014.
In mid-May, Russia sent North Korea 2,400 tons of food aid through the U.N.'s World Food Program.