S. Korea’s aid to N.K. will be used for most vulnerable people: WFP Seoul chief

This photo from the WFP shows countries in which people face a food shortage.

This photo from the WFP shows the countries in which people face a food shortage.

The humanitarian assistance South Korea promised to provide to the North via the World Food Programme (WFP) will be used for the most vulnerable populations in the impoverished country, including women and children, the agency’s Seoul bureau chief said Thursday.

Lim Hyong-Joon made the remarks during a seminar in Seoul, adding that around 50 monitoring staff members are stationed in the North to check food situations in the country.

Earlier this month, South Korea pledged to donate US$8 million to the U.N. Children’s Fund and the WFP to support their projects in the North, with $4.5 million of the total set to be spent via the WFP.

“We do close monitoring about 100 to 150 times a month … and the conditions for such work is continuing to improve,” Lim said. “There have been a lot of natural disasters (in North Korea) recently, including floods, resulting in a sharp drop in the food output.”

Farmers busy preparing land for maize crop in Sinchon Country. (Photo=WFP)

Farmers busy preparing land for maize crop in Sinchon Country. <Photo=WFP>

In April, the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a joint report based on their field inspection that North Korea’s crop output last year hit the lowest level since 2008, with an estimated 10 million people, or 40 percent of its population, in urgent need of food.

Lim said about 6.5 percent of the total fund is usually spent for extra expenses, such as for logistics, storing and monitoring.

“The remaining 93.5 percent goes to the recipients,” he said, stressing that the proportion of such extra cost at the WFP is lower than other international organizations, where the comparable figure stands at 8 to 10 percent.

Lim said the assistance to the North will be provided in the form of biscuits or cereals.

(Yonhap)

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