South Korea Approves An $8 Million Aid Package For North Korea

Violet Powell
September 22, 2017

South Korea has approved a plan to send millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid to the North, in spite of Pyongyang continuing to develop nuclear bombs.

The aid will be distributed via United Nations agencies.

The ministry, which oversees cross-border relations, said humanitarian aid to impoverished North Korea should remain unaffected by rising political tensions on the peninsula.

The exact timing of when the aid will be sent will be decided later, Yonhap said.

"We will be putting more sanctions on North Korea", Trump told reporters in NY earlier Thursday, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The strategy session on curbing North Korea's nuclear program is expected to including prodding South Korea toward a harder-line approach favored by the US and Japan.

Under the plan, the South will provide $4.5 million for a nutrition program run by the World Food Program (WFP).

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South Korea's Unification Ministry said Thursday it will provide the North with humanitarian aid worth $8 million, which is the first such action under the new administration. "And they do not deserve to suffer for situations entirely beyond their control", she said, adding North Korean children "are no exception". Japan's government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said it could undermine global efforts to put pressure on North Korea.

Moon will meet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump later on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where North Korea was expected to be the core agenda item.

Karin Hulshof, regional director for East Asia and the Pacific at UNICEF, highlighted the urgency of helping North Korean children, saying that the challenges they are facing are "all too real".

The decision to resume aid is not popular in the South and President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has taken a hit. The World Health Organization estimates the mortality rate among North Korean children aged five and under at 25 per 1,000, compared with three in every 1,000 in South Korea.

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.

This image captured from footage provided by the World Food Program on September 13, 2011, shows a North Korean child suffering from malnutrition.

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