UNICEF resumes aid deliveries to north-east DPR Korea
Trucks bearing food and medicine from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have begun a difficult four-day journey over mountain roads to deliver supplies to youngsters in the isolated provinces in the north-east of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Some 11 tons of therapeutic milk, 1.5 tons of therapeutic food for severely malnourished children and enough medicine for 400,000 people for three months are among the items being sent to the area.
This delivery is UNICEF’s first since Pyongyang cut off international agencies’ access to the provinces in late 2006. Prior to the closure, the agency, which had been active in the area since 1999, had been providing crucial assistance in the areas of health, nutrition and water supply.
The UN Country Team commenced negotiations with the Government to allow aid workers to enter the area early last year, and the decision to allow them to re-enter was confirmed on 7 July.
“We welcome the decision by the Government to resume humanitarian access to these provinces,” said UNICEF Representative Gopalan Balagopal. “It is now urgent we reach children as quickly as possible with life-saving support.”
He noted that the agency’s priority is to cooperate with its partners to quickly help vulnerable children and to provide treatment to save the lives of severely malnourished youngsters.
According to an assessment on food security by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), there are many malnourished children in Hamgyong and Ryanggang, two north-eastern provinces struck by last year’s severe floods.
Mr. Balagopal will lead a team, which will include UNICEF’s Chief of Health and Nutrition, on an 11-day mission to those provinces tomorrow. They will visit hospitals, health facilities and children’s institutions, as well as conclude arrangements to train health care providers to treat malnutrition.
Last month, WFP and DPRK entered into an agreement, paving the way for the agency to enhance its food assistance to more than five million hungry people in the country.