Steep drop in aid for DPR of Korea could endanger child health, UNICEF warns

Steep drop in aid for DPR of Korea could endanger child health, UNICEF warns

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Warning that the dramatic fall-off in humanitarian aid for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) may soon leave clinics without medicines and supplies - wiping out recent hard-won gains in child health care - the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reiterated an urgent appeal for donations today.

Speaking from Beijing after a weeklong tour observing the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, Mehr Khan, UNICEF's Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, highlighted the dramatic drop in levels of funding for humanitarian assistance to the country since early 2003.

Ms. Khan noted that UNICEF's appeal for $12 million in emergency assistance had so far received less than $500,000, and cautioned that recent gains in children's nutritional status and childhood immunization rates, as well as the agency's work in other critical areas, such as water and sanitation and education, will be endangered unless funds are urgently provided.

Advising that essential medicines, vaccines and food are urgently needed, Ms. Khan added that unless new contributions are forthcoming, child malnutrition rates could easily rise again very rapidly.