Aid to North higher under liberal leaders

Aid to North higher under liberal leaders

Aid to North higher under liberal leaders

The Unification Ministry explained that the latest decision is in accordance with the government's basic stance that it separates the issue of humanitarian aid for the North with political situations.

"I hope people in North Korea will realize the reason they need humanitarian aid is because they have a dictator leader who is willing to fund a nuclear program, an illicit nuclear program, and doing so starving its own people".

About $4.5m of nutrition-rich supplies will be distributed to children and pregnant women through the UN World Food Programme.

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

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The exact timing of when the aid will be sent will be decided later, Yonhap said. It also risks causing a rift with the U.S. and Japan, which regard engagement as a concession to North Korea, while it accelerates its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. Japan's government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said it could undermine global efforts to put pressure on North Korea.

Unicef's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific, Karin Hulshof, said North Korean children faced problems that were "all too real".

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.

Hulshof said around 200,000 children are suffered from "acute malnutrition, heightening their risk of death and increasing rates of stunting", and that around 350,000 children under five remain unvaccinated against life-threatening diseases.

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But the government under ousted President Park Geun-hye, Moon's predecessor, suspended humanitarian assistance after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

It is believed that 28% of children in North Korea have chronic malnutrition.

"The government will weigh the timing of an aid provision and size after taking into account various factors such as inter-Korean situations", the ministry said in a statement. It also raised concerns in Japan and the US.

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