South Korea yesterday vowed to move quickly on its plans to provide US$8 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea while it also considers sending food to the country that says it is suffering its worst drought in decades.
South Korean Ministry of Unification spokesman Lee Sang-min said the government would discuss its plans with the World Food Program and the UN Children’s Fund, through which the aid would be provided, so it reaches North Korean children and pregnant women quickly.
South Korea is also trying to build public and political support for providing food aid to the North, either directly or through an international organization.
North Korea’s state media last week said that the country was suffering its worst drought in more than a century amid reported food shortages.
“The government will first discuss with international organizations over the provision of aid and take measures so that the support arrives [in the North] quickly,” Lee said. “On the matter of direct aid, we will consider the matter while sufficiently garnering the opinions of our citizens.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed hopes that aid would help revive diplomacy and engagement with Pyongyang, but his government has yet to decide on concrete plans amid growing public frustration over the North, which recently resumed short-range missile tests.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday last week said that an average of 54.4mm of rain fell from January to early this month, which it said represented the lowest level since 1982.
That was two days before the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the average precipitation of 56.3mm from January to May 15 was the country’s lowest since 1917.
UN food agencies earlier this month said that about 10 million people were facing “severe food shortages” after one of the North’s worst harvests in a decade.
North Korean state media are campaigning to urge farmers to do their best with what they have, to grow as much as possible this year.
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