UN sanctions punishing North Korea for its reported nuclear test should not target aid deliveries keeping millions of North Korean civilians alive, the UN's top humanitarian official said yesterday.
"It is not the leaders who will starve and freeze this winter -- it is the most vulnerable," Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters in Geneva.
He said the UN and Red Cross shipments of food and medicine to the isolated communist nation are "of vital, lifesaving importance" for North Korean civilians and urged that humanitarian efforts be spared in any sanctions.
"The food should continue and it should be funded by generous donors," Egeland said at the global body's European headquarters.
Pyongyang shocked the world on Monday by claiming to have conducted an underground nuclear bomb test, prompting worldwide condemnation.
Council members are still debating how severe to set the sanctions against North Korea. China said its communist ally should face "some punitive actions" while the US and others are pushing for tougher sanctions.