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Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
The Russian Federation delivered 2092 tons of wheat to North Korea through the World Food Programme (WFP) over the weekend, according to the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, as part of Moscow’s ongoing public efforts to provide food aid to the country.
Half of the haul was dropped off by the vessel “Ungbong-2” in the North Korean east-coast port city of Chongjin and the rest in Hungnam, the port city neighboring Hamhung, the embassy reported Monday through its Facebook page.
“The grain will be used to make cookies and nutritious mixtures for children and pregnant women,” it added.
Images attached to the post show stacks of 50kg bags of wheat originating in Russia and with the text “Gift of Russian Federation.”
The bags also say the wheat was produced by the “Impulse Dialogue” company, known to be contracted to provide fortified wheat flour to the WFP for deliveries to North Korea in the past as well.
WFP says on its website that its DPRK work aims to “reduce acute and chronic malnutrition” by providing “specialized nutritious food to around a million pregnant women, nursing mothers and children” each month.
The aid organization supports 11 food fortification factories and 12 production lines in total in North Korea producing fortified cereals and biscuits, which are then “distributed to the institutions that WFP supports,” their website says.
The January monthly brief from WFP stated that “food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread” in North Korea, with 10.9 million people or more than 40 percent of the population undernourished.
The delivery over the weekend follows remarks from a Russian lawmaker suggesting the country may soon send as much as 50,000 tons of wheat to North Korea through the WFP.
In those remarks, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev said Russia would fulfill its prior promises to provide millions of dollars to organizations such as the WFP for their work in the DPRK.
Russia provided USD$4 million or almost 15% of the total money received in 2018 by UN organizations working on issues in North Korea, including the WFP, according to the UN’s Financial Tracking Service.
Meanwhile, Russia and the DPRK are set to begin a major bilateral trade conference in Moscow, with the 9th Meeting of the DPRK-Russian Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) for Cooperation in Trade, Economics, Science and Technology set to start on Tuesday.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Facebook of Russian Embassy in Pyongyang