SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- The World Health Organization will likely start an assistance project in North Korea within this year as South Korea will soon complete administrative preparations to send its pledged donation to the U.N. body, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.
Last week, the ministry handling inter-Korean affairs announced a plan to donate US$5 million to the WHO for its assistance project for women and babies in the impoverished state.
"Working-level preparations are currently under way in order to make the project start to be implemented within this year," a ministry official told reporters.
The donation marks the first time for South Korea to make a contribution to the WHO for its projects in North Korea in five years.
It also came as inter-Korean relations and cross-border exchanges have been stalled amid little progress in denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States.
The Moon Jae-in government has maintained that politics should not play a role in dealing with humanitarian issues and hoped that such support will boost the reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas.
In June, South Korea donated $8 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) and the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) for their assistance projects in the North.
Separately, the government unveiled a plan to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea through the WFP to help address its food shortages, but the North rejected the offer, voicing displeasure over a joint military drill by Seoul and Washington.
The ministry official said the government will determine whether to terminate the donation plan or carry over the money set aside in next year's budget for possible use in the future by Dec. 20 as the fiscal year is drawing to a close.
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