|In this photo released by the World Food Program, North Korean children eat food donated by the WFP at a kindergarten in Hyangsan, in North Korea Thursday Oct. 12, 2006. / Korea Times file|
By Bahk Eun-ji
The World Food Program (WFP), the U.N. food agency, has stopped food aid to about 190,000 North Korean kindergarteners amid growing international pressure and strong economic and military sanctions against North Korea to give up its nuclear program.
In a phone conversation, Lim Hyoung-joon, head of WFP Korea, said the U.N. agency stopped the aid last month due to funding problems.
Lim said it needed $25.5 million (24.5 billion won) to provide food for the children over the next six months in addition to vulnerable groups in North Korea such as pregnant or lactating women and children younger than two, but it could not secure the money and decided to cut the aid for the former.
"We need an additional $14.6 million to reach the goal. Once we secure the money, WFP will provide the aid to those kindergarteners," Lim said.
The reason the agency cut the aid to the children is that pregnant and children under two are higher on the priority list than those under five.
The kindergarten students are aged younger than five.
The WFP still provides 66 grams of cereal to children under five and 132 grams of cereal to pregnant women daily in North Korea.