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UN Aid Chief Vows to Expand N. Korea Aid

14 July 2018

The United Nations humanitarian chief said Wednesday he had seen "clear evidence" of need in North Korea - where one fifth of children are malnourished - during a rare trip.

United Nations coordinator for humanitarian Affairs mark Lowcock on the results of his visit to the DPRK said that within 20 years the situation has improved, but the country still did not get rid of the "considerable challenges in the humanitarian field".

Almost 30 percent of the country's children were stunted from malnutrition in 2011 but the number has fallen to 20 percent now, Lowcock said, admitting however even the current figure is "still a higher number".

"Our top priority is to secure funding for the (2018) Needs and Priorities Plan", Lowcock said, referencing a plan which calls for USD$111 million in spending for assistance to the DPRK. Only 10 percent has been raised so far, Lowrock said, through donations from the Swedish, Swiss and Canadian governments.

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U.N. Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock arrived in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Monday.

"More than half of children in rural areas. have no clean water", he said in a video posted on Twitter.

The North Koreans reportedly said "it is completely consistent to have a strategy of developing the economy and being self-reliant, and in the meantime seeking assistance with life-saving work".

The proportion of children affected by stunting, a failure to develop physically and cognitively, has fallen to 20 percent from 28 percent in 2011, but that "is still a high number", Lowrock said.

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Besides malnutrition and water, Lowrock also highlighted a shortage of drugs and medical supplies and equipment.

Spokesperson for the Global Fund Seth Faison reiterated to the publication Science in June just before the grants officially stopped that their stance had not changed, adding they hoped "to re-engage with DPRK when the operating environment allows the access and oversight required".

Lowcock also said that he had "good discussions" with the authorities in Pyongyang who were providing better access that they used to.

Choi Si-young zooms in on the outcome of the first such visit in seven years.

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Lowcock and his team are expected to leave Pyongyang on Thursday.

UN Aid Chief Vows to Expand N. Korea Aid