Seoul, South Korea on Friday announced it would donate $8 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea through international agencies, at a time when its neighbour faces a possible food shortage and drought.
Seoul had originally approved the aid package in 2017, but the repeated testing of weapons by Pyongyang, the imposition of international sanctions on North Korea and later the lack of progress in North’s denuclearisation had prevented the proposal’s actual implementation, Efe news agency reported.
“We plan to provide $8 million through international agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP) and United Nations Children’s Fund for projects to support the nutrition of children and pregnant women and their health,” the South Korean Ministry of Unification said in a statement.
Seoul said it had approved the aid irrespective of the political situation, at a time when the denuclearisation dialogue with Pyongyang has been stuck since the failed US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February.
According to media reports, North Korea is facing a severe food shortage and has witnessed the worst spring drought in four decades.
A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the WFP said that due to the worst harvest in a decade, some 10 million North Koreans – 40 per cent of the total population – face an imminent food shortage.
The government, led by President Moon Jae-in, on Friday also authorized South Korean businesspersons’ first visit to the Kaesong inter-Korean industrial park since the complex was shut down in 2016 due to Pyongyang’s weapons tests.
Seoul’s announcements come after Pyongyang stepped up pressure on South Korea and the US last week to soften their positions in the denuclearisation dialogue by carrying out two consecutive missile tests.