정부, 800만弗 대북 인도지원 결정…지원시기는 추후 결정
South Korea says it’s resuming humanitarian aid to North Korea.
It should provide some much needed relief to women and children suffering from food shortages.
Critics, however,… have accused the administration of sending mixed messages… especially at a time when the international community attempts to punish the regime for its provocations.
Perhaps with an eye on the criticism, the aid has been pledged, but no word on when it will be sent.
Kwon Jang-ho reports.
The Unification Ministry announced on Thursday that 8 million U.S. dollars has been approved to be donated to two UN agencies,… for projects specifically aimed at helping vulnerable North Koreans.
4-point-5 million dollars has been earmarked for the World Food Program, which will provide food to children’s hospitals and nurseries.
And 3-point-5 million will go UNICEF, to treat malnutrition and provide medicine for children and pregnant women.
UNICEF released a statement earlier on Thursday stressing the urgent need to help children in North Korea, saying that some 200-thousand are affected by acute malnutrition, and that 350,000 under-five remain un-vaccinated against life-threatening diseases.
Seoul’s decision comes despite rising tensions with North Korea, but the Unification Minister stressed that it is an unrelated issue.
“We have maintained the stance that humanitarian aid should be separate from the political situation. The international community responds to North Korea’s provocations with strong sanctions, but it also continues to stress the need to provide aid to the North Korean people.”
However, the Unification Ministry’s press release states that while the donation has been agreed in principle, the actual date and size of the payments are not yet decided, and those details will depend on the situation between the two Korea’s, and other conditions.
When asked what those conditions may entail and whether they can be considered political, a ministry spokesperson was unable to clarify, saying many factors needed to be reviewed, including public opinion and negotiations with the charities.
Any talk of humanitarian aid at all has been controversial.
All aid was stopped by the previous administration in January 2016 in reaction to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.
In stark contrast, Thursday’s announcement comes just 2 and a half weeks after the North’s sixth nuclear test.
Opposition lawmakers are criticizing the move, saying the timing is inappropriate and that it will only serve to assist the Kim Jong-un regime.
Japan has also voiced its opposition, saying right now North Korea needs more pressure, not aid.
“By declaring its intent to provide humanitarian aid, Seoul is signaling it plans to continue reaching out to North Korea. However, with the date and details still undecided, the administration risks criticism from its supporters as well as its detractors, for what may be seen as a failure to fully commit.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News.”
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