어린이들 영양실조 심각
“북한은 지금 1100만명이 영양결핍(營養缺乏)에 시달리고 수십만명의 영유아가 발육부진과 지능저하의 위험에 빠져 있다.”
유엔의 인도주의 원조조정국 북한담당관이 지난 6일 북한 주민들과 영유아들의 건강실태가 심각한 위기상황(危機狀況)이라고 진단했다.
유엔의 타판 미쉬라(Tapan Mishra_ 북한 담당관(UN Resident Coordinator in DPRK)이 지난 6일 2019 인도주의 필요와 우선순위 보고서(Needs and Priorities Plan)에서 북한 실태의 긴박함을 경고하고 조속한 지원이 필요하다고 강조했다.
보고서에 따르면 지난해 유엔의 ‘인도주의 필요와 우선순위’ 지원은 목표치의 24%에 그쳤다. 지난 10년래 최악의 상황으로 인해 1100만명이 영양결핍의 위험에 처했고 약 140만명이 구호 식량을 지급받지 못했으며, 80만명이 꼭 필요한 보건서비스를 받지 못했다.
미쉬라 담당관은 “현재 북한에선 식량과 깨끗한 물이 제대로 공급되지 않는 상태로 특히 5세 이하의 영유아들이 위험에 직면해 있다”고 지적했다. 이같은 어린이들은 19만명의 유치원생과 초등학생들이다.
이래경 다른백년 이사장은 “인도적 지원은 안보리제재의 예외사항이다. 천백만명이 영양실조 위기에 있고, 수백만명이 콜레라 결핵 등 질병으로, 수십만 명의 영유아가 영양부족으로 신체발육지진과 지능저하의 위험에 빠져있는데 이를 수수방관(袖手傍觀) 할텐가”라고 목소리를 높였다.
이래경 이사장은 “아직도 UN이 요청한 지원할당금의 이행을 유보하고 있는 문재인 정부와 동포인 북한에 대한 일체의 인도적 지원행위를 취하지 않는 대한적십자에게 일대 각성(覺醒)을 요구한다”고 강조했다.
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2019 Needs and Priorities Plan
The Humanitarian Country Team in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is today releasing the 2019 Needs and Priorities Plan which calls for US$120 million to urgently provide life-saving aid to 3.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian operations in DPRK are a critical lifeline for millions of people who are in a protracted cycle of humanitarian need. Women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and are prioritized in this plan. For example, in the nutrition sector, 90 per cent of assistance goes to children under five and women. In the health sector, 92 per cent of assistance is directed to children under five and women. Their plight must not be forgotten.
An estimated 11 million people in DPRK lack sufficient nutritious food, clean drinking water or access to basic services like health and sanitation. Widespread undernutrition threatens an entire generation of children, with one in five children stunted due to chronic undernutrition. Coupled with limited healthcare and a lack of access to safe water and sanitation and hygiene services, children are also at risk of dying from curable diseases.
Most concerning is that the overall food production in 2018 was more than 9 per cent lower than 2017 and wasthe lowest production in more than a decade. This has resulted in a significant food gap. Without adequatefunding for life-saving activities as outlined in the Needs and Priorities Plan, we open the door to a potential deterioration of the humanitarian situation in DPRK and to increased malnutrition and illness. If we are to address and mitigate the impact of food insecurity on the most vulnerable in the country, including women and children, the time to act is now.
Despite these alarming facts, humanitarian activities in DPRK are critically underfunded and the needs of millions of mostly women and children have not been met. Last year’s Needs and Priorities Plan was only funded at 24 per cent, making it one of the lowest funded humanitarian plans in the world. A number of agencies have already been forced to scale back their programmes. Without adequate funding this year, the only option left for some agencies will be to close projects that serve as a life-line for millions of people.
Although Security Council sanctions clearly exempt humanitarian activities, life-saving programmes continue to face serious challenges and delays. While unintended consequences of sanctions persist, these delays have a real and tangible impact on the aid that we are able to provide to people who desperately need it. We must collectively fulfil our commitment under the Sustainable Development Goals to “leave no one behind.”
Last year, we were only able reach one third of the people to whom we planned to provide humanitarian assistance. An estimated 1.4 million people didn’t get food assistance. Just under 800,000 people were not able to access essential health services. An estimated 190,000 kindergarten children and 85,000 acutely malnourished children did not get the nutrition support they needed. Beyond the numbers, the human cost of our inability to respond is unmeasurable.
In spite of these challenges, and thanks to the generosity of donors, the UN and International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) were able to reach two million people with humanitarian aid. I have never failed to be impressed by the commitment and work of the humanitarian organisations in the country.
I have seen the impact of their programmes on the lives of ordinary people who they have supported by providing nutritious food, ensuring children are vaccinated, treating malnutrition and diseases, providing access to clean water, and supporting farmers to grow food despite the risk of natural disasters. I have also seen progress being made on the ground. We have made great strides in improving access and monitoring for humanitarian agencies in DPRK through continued, principled, and robust engagement with the Government. Humanitarian agencies rigorously monitor their programmes throughout the country to ensure assistance is reaching the most vulnerable. In 2018, 1,855 project site visits were conducted during 854 monitoring days by UN agencies and INGOs, covering all 11 provinces in the country.
Since 2012, there has also been an improvement in the child nutrition situation with rates of chronic undernutrition amongst children under five dropping from 28 per cent to 19 per cent. Yet my concern, and that of the entire humanitarian community, is that while the impact of stunting is irreversible, these overall improvements are not.
I appeal to all our potential donors and stakeholders to rise above political and security considerations, and to not allow them to get in the way of providing life-saving aid to the men, women, and children who need it the most. We simply cannot leave them behind.
Statement by Mr. Tapan Mishra, UN Resident Coordinator in DPRK, on the release of the 2019 Needs and Priorities Plan