Three United Nations agencies today welcomed a pledge of almost $20 million by the Republic of Korean (ROK) for emergency food and health programmes to assist millions of vulnerable people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“This very significant pledge by the Republic of Korea will help ensure that 3.5 million hungry people, many of whom had previously been cut from our distribution plans, receive cereal rations for up to three months,” World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director James Morris said today, welcoming the 100,000 tons of maize, valued at $18 million, that will be channelled through the agency.
In its broadest commitment to the UN's humanitarian relief efforts in the Korean Peninsula this year, the ROK said it will also channel $700,000 for a malaria prevention campaign through the World Health Organization (WHO) and $500,000 in supplies for child health and nutrition through the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
“The ROK is clearly signalling that it has seen what UN collaboration can do to improve the health and nutrition of needy children and wants us to continue the good work,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. WHO Director-General Gro Brundtland, meanwhile, also welcomed the support and said it will reduce the malaria burden considerably.
Following a mid-January mission to the DPRK by his personal envoy, Maurice Strong, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of an impending humanitarian crisis unless donors responded quickly to the pressing food and medical needs of the most vulnerable there.
The Republic of Korea’s pledge, the latest in a series by donors to the DPRK, brings to $72 million the level of funding secured by UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the Red Cross for key humanitarian operations this year. However, this figure is still 68 per cent short of the $225 million required to fully deal with the crisis.