Korea to donate $10 million for NK aid programme

07-Aug-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The government has decided to donate $10 million (11.9 billion won) to North Korea via a World Food Programme (WFP) aid project, under which it will provide essential food and nutrition for hundreds of thousands of young children and women, the Ministry of Unification ministry said Thursday.

The ministry made it clear that the provision did not breach international sanctions imposed on the North for its nuclear and missile programmes.

The decision, made during a meeting of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, marked the first humanitarian aid to the North since the inauguration of Unification minister Lee In-young in July, who is pursuing more projects between the two Koreas.

“This decision will serve as a starting point for the government to consistently provide humanitarian aid to the North regardless of the political and military situation,” Lee told the council.

Last year, the South made a donation of 50,000 metric tonnes of rice and $4.5 million in cash to cover 10 million people suffering from hunger in the drought-hit North.

This year’s money will be used to provide 9,000 tonnes of fortified food to 143,000 children under the age of 7 and 31,500 pregnant and nursing women in 60 counties in the North (WFP figures), and 3,600 tonnes of corn, beans and cooking oil, the ministry said.

According to a ministry official, the WFP requested the aid earlier this year and relevant discussions began in earnest in March.

“We have reached the conclusion that it is the right time to step up with humanitarian aid,” the official said.

He added: “The money will be remitted to the WFP next week and the aid is expected to arrive in the North around the end of the year, meaning that North Korean people will benefit starting next year.”

In response to speculation that the aid may either be diverted to the military or fund the nuclear weapons and missile programmes, the official said that the food-assistance branch of the United Nations is well equipped with a monitoring system, having an office in Pyongyang.

The aid programme comes two months later than initially planned due to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, highlighted by the North’s unilateral demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Gaeseong to express its anger at anti-North propaganda leaflets sent by North Korean defectors and activists.

Along with the WFP aid, the government will spend nearly $2.4 million during the remainder of the year as part of a three-year project to turn the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) into a cultural zone.

The ministry plans to utilise facilities in the inter-Korean transit office near Gaeseong and remodel disabled guard posts into places for cultural exchanges.

“We hope to recover national unity between the two Koreas through the peaceful use of the Demilitarised Zone,” the ministry said.

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/08/103_293985.html

 

Category: Korea

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