North Korea cuts rations, warns of food crisis ahead of Trump-Kim summit: report

North Korea has cut almost half of its rations as it reports a shortage of about 1.4 million tons of food in 2019, according to a memo uncovered by Reuters Thursday. 

The hermit nation cited high temperatures, drought, floods and United Nations sanctions as reasons for the move in a two-page memo to the U.N.

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“The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] government calls on international organizations to urgently respond to addressing the food situation,” the memo says.

The news comes about a week before President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are set to meet in Vietnam to resume negotiations on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Washington seeks proof that North Korea will dismantle its nuclear arsenal, while Pyongyang has demanded an official end to the Korean War, security guarantees and the lifting of harsh sanctions. 

The U.N. Security Council also has repeatedly ramped up sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. 

The memo says North Korea’s food production last year was 4.951 million tons, a drop of 503,000 tons from 2017. The U.N. confirmed the figures to Reuters.

North Korea said it would bring in 200,000 tons of food and farm about 400,000 tons of crops, but would still face a shortage and would be forced to cut individual rations from 550 grams to 300 grams.

U.N. officials and aid groups in North Korea were talking to the government to “further understand the impact of the food security situation on the most vulnerable people in order to take early action to address their humanitarian needs,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters on Thursday.

He added that a combined effort from the U.N. and aid groups were only able to assist about 2 million out of 6 million people determined to be in need last year after an appeal for $111 million was only a quarter funded.

The U.N. estimates 10.3 million people, accounting for almost half of North Korea’s population, are in need, and about 41 percent are undernourished.

Humanitarian aid to North Korea was also sharply curtailed in 2018 as the U.S. ramped up enforcement of U.N.-imposed sanctions. 

“While Security Council sanctions clearly exempt humanitarian activities, there have been unintended consequences on humanitarian operations,” Dujarric said.

Russia is reportedly considering sending 50,000 tons of wheat to help North Korea with the shortages, according to Reuters.