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S. Korea approves donation plan for U.N. agencies to help N. Korean people

All Headlines 14:47 June 05, 2019

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday approved a plan to donate US$8 million to U.N. agencies for their humanitarian assistance projects in North Korea, the unification ministry said Wednesday.

Last month, the ministry unveiled the plan to donate $8 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) for their projects to support the nutrition of children and pregnant women in North Korea and address their health problems.

On Wednesday, the unification ministry's inter-Korean exchange promotion panel, consisting of government officials and civilian experts, reviewed and endorsed the donation plan, the ministry said.

A ministry official said that it will likely take three or four days before the pledged money will be sent to the U.N. agencies for implementation.

Of the total, $4.5 million will be given to the WFP and the remainder to UNICEF for their respective projects.

It marks the first humanitarian assistance to be provided to North Korea through international agencies by the Moon Jae-in government since its inauguration in 2017.

The approval of the donation plan came amid growing worries that North Korea faces worsening food shortages, apparently affected by crushing global sanctions and years of unfavorable weather conditions.

The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported, based on a visit to North Korea, that the country's crop output last year hit the lowest level since 2008, adding that an estimated 10 million people, about 40 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food.

South Korea is drawing up a separate plan to send food aid to the North.

On Tuesday, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said that discussions with the WFP are under way over possible food aid to North Korea in a possible sign that the government might have opted to send food via the international agency instead of by direct shipment.

Kim earlier stressed the importance of humanitarian aid to the impoverished North regardless of politics, citing a famous quote by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan that "a hungry child knows no politics."

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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