Published: Sat, July 14, 2018

'Clear evidence of humanitarian need' in North Korea, UN aid chief says

'Clear evidence of humanitarian need' in North Korea, UN aid chief says

The UN's humanitarian chief, who wrapped up a three-day visit to North Korea this week, says the UN hopes to increase its humanitarian assistance to the country.

It was the first visit to North Korea by an emergency relief coordinator since 2011.

"If you go back 20 years or so there were very many large-scale humanitarian problems resulting in enormous loss of life and in the recent period there has been a lot of progress", Lowcock told reporters in the capital Pyongyang.

Among children under five, 20 percent have experienced stunted growth. and almost half of children in rural areas don't have access to safe drinking water.

"One of things I will be doing when I return to NY in talking to the Member States of the United Nations is trying to draw people's attention to the very real humanitarian challenges here, and to say to them that the United Nations has good programmes, which can save lives, and we have better access across the country for United Nations staff than we have had in the past", he said.

In particular, according to him, about half of the rural children in the DPRK do not have access to clean water, according to DW.

Access for humanitarian workers was improving, he said without elaborating, but he noted that funding was falling short.

The UN estimates that nearly half of the North Korean population - around 10-point-6 million people out of 25 million - need humanitarian assistance, especially in the countryside.

Lowcock on Wednesday met with the North s health minister Jang Jun Sang, Pyongyang s official KCNA news agency said without elaborating further.

United Nations officials have warned that worldwide sanctions over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are exacerbating humanitarian problems by slowing aid deliveries.

Mortality rates for under-fives are 20 percent higher in the countryside than in towns, it said, adding a shortage of funding had forced it to stop nutrition support to kindergartens since November 2017.

While visiting a hospital, he said there were 140 tuberculosis patients but only enough drugs to treat 40 of them.

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