S. Korea approves $8m in aid to N

Pauline Gross
September 22, 2017

"We have consistently said we would pursue humanitarian aid for North Korea in consideration of the poor conditions children and pregnant women are in there, apart from political issues", said Cho in opening remarks at the meeting.

The decision is a break with the hard-line policy on aid, pursued by Seoul since the start of previous year.

The implementation of the aid was expected to be delayed as tensions ran high on the Korean Peninsula after the North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations.

The timing of the assistance, however, has not been set as the government plans to take into account current inter-Korean relations.

"The children of (North Korea) have always been invisible to much of the world, but the challenges they face are all too real - and the need to reach them is urgent", Hulshof said in a statement.

The meeting was organized at the request of UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP).

That could mean the aid might not arrive in North Korea this year, senior ministry officials said.

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The decision was made at the 286th Inter-Korean Exchanges and Cooperation Promotion Council, with unification minister Cho Myong-gyon in attendance.

Among the total, US$4.5 million would be provided for the WFP project, while the remaining US$3.5 million was allotted to the UNICEF project. The missile test came one day after Seoul first said it was considering the $8 million aid package, which the central government will pay for.

An estimated 18 million of North Korea's 25 million people require assistance due to food shortages and malnutrition, according to the UN. Among them, 1.3 million, including children and pregnant women, are in acute need of help.

South Korea's unification ministry emphasized humanitarian aid shouldn't be affected by the North's worldwide political tensions.

Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, issued a statement on Wednesday calling for more humanitarian aid to the DPRK.

South Korea's unification ministry agreed to provide the funds, just days after the United Nations security council agreed to a further round of sanctions, in response to the regime's most recent nuclear test.

South Korea has put massive state-backed assistance to North Korea on hold following its 2010 sanctions created to punish the North for the sinking of a South Korean warship. Cho also noted the severity of the current situation surrounding the Korean peninsula on North Korea's ongoing provocations and the efforts of global leaders being displayed at the UN General Assembly in NY. "And they do not deserve to suffer for situations entirely beyond their control", she said, adding North Korean children "are no exception".

Other reports by GizPress

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