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S. Korea seeks to help N. Korean refugees abroad

All Headlines 09:54 February 11, 2015

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean government agency is trying to expand an "emergency rescue project" for North Korean refugees abroad, especially women in China, an official document showed Wednesday.

The state-funded Korea Hana Foundation, affiliated with the unification ministry, was recently involved in successfully taking nine North Korean defectors to a safe place, according to its report to the National Assembly.

The Seoul-based foundation, in charge of providing education and financial support to North Korean defectors in the South, would not reveal the specific location for their security.

North Koreans seeking a new life usually cross the border into China. An informal tally put the number of North Koreans holing up in China at around 200,000. Some head to Mongolia or Southeast Asian nations in hopes of finally reaching South Korea.

The South Korean government has a policy of embracing North Korean defectors, but it refrains from directly helping them abroad out of concern over diplomatic problems.

The South's lawmakers, however, have called on the government to step up efforts to help rescue those who experience serious human rights violations, in particular women, even in an indirect manner.

In 2014, 60 million won (US$54,000) of state budget was allocated to help North Koreans in need abroad.

The Korea Hana Foundation told the National Assembly that it will seek ways to expand the project in cooperation with related aid groups.



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