Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

UN aid chief: 'Clear evidence' of need in North Korea

UN aid chief: 'Clear evidence' of need in North Korea

Under-Secretary General Mark Lowcock on Wednesday paid a courtesy visit to Kim Yong-nam, who also serves as chairman of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

A team of United Nations representatives led by Lowcock arrived in Pyongyang on Monday and has since held meetings with their North Korean counterparts and visited farms, kindergartens, nurseries, local hospitals, and other locations.

Lowcock posted a video online outlining his observations after traveling to several areas in the southwest of the country.

The number of people suffering from stunting due to malnutrition has decreased from 28% in 2011 to 20%, said Lowcock, however, the current rate is still high.

But while Beasley also emphasized the need for greater access inside the country, Lowcock said this week he feels confident in the reliability of data coming from the DPRK, and that the United Nations is "able to give people assurances that funds given to us are well spent and save lives and reduce suffering".

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"More than half the children in rural areas, including the places we've been, have no clean water, contaminated water sources".

It said it had to stop nutrition support for kindergartens in North Korea in November because of a lack of funds, while its "2018 Needs and Priorities Plan" in the country is 90% underfunded.

The North has a fragile economy and has long struggled to feed its people, and is under multiple layers of UN Security Council sanctions over a series of nuclear and missile tests staged in violation of UN resolutions. In particular, in one of the visited hospitals had medicines only for 40 of the 140 patients with tuberculosis.

The UN estimates that nearly half of the North Korean population - around 10-point-6 million people out of 25 million - need humanitarian assistance, especially in the countryside.

Lowcock and his party also met the North Korean Minister of Public Health, Jang Jun-sang, at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, reports Efe news.

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