Seoul Seeks to Provide $8 Mln in Humanitarian Aid to Pyongyang Despite Tensions
According to the Yonhap news agency, the South Korean government plans to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea despite existing tensions.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The South Korean government is considering providing $8 million in humanitarian assistance to North Korea via international organizations despite existing tensions, with relevant steps to be discussed at a meeting on inter-Korean cooperation next week, local media reported Thursday, citing a South Korean Unification Ministry official.
According to the Yonhap news agency, if approved, the measures will include allocating $4.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP), while another $3.5 million will be given to UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) vaccine, medicine and nutrition projects. Both programs are aimed at providing aid to pregnant women, mothers and children.
"Seoul is mulling over the support… The government's basic stance is that humanitarian assistance to those who are vulnerable in North Korea should be continued regardless of political considerations… But Seoul plans to decide the details of the aid and its timing after taking into account the inter-Korean situation," the official said, as quoted by the news agency.
The official also noted that the move reiterated Seoul's commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the North regardless the political situation.
"It will be a good chance to get an idea of the current state of the North Korean population with reliable international methods and the ministry feels the need [for supporting] such project… The latest U.N. sanctions resolution also reaffirmed that it is not intended to negatively affect humanitarian activities for North Korean citizens or restrict them," the official said.
The news agency mentioned that if approved, the relief package would become the first South Korea had provided to the North after a two-year hiatus following the missile tests. Furthermore, it would be the first humanitarian action since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took the office in May.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been especially high over recent months due to Pyongyang's repeated missile and nuclear tests, all carried out in violation of the UN resolutions. Following his election, Moon stressed that he was seeking a dialogue with North Korea in order to ensure reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. In July, he stressed that international humanitarian assistance to North Korea, especially in tacking issue of children malnutrition, should not be undermined by the current political situation.
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