S. Korea to provide US$7.5 million worth of emergency aid to N. Korea


South Korea is to send 7.1 billion won ($7.5 million) worth of emergency aid to North Korea next week as part of efforts to help the communist country recover from the damage wreaked by recent heavy rains, the South’s point man on the North said Friday.

“We will prepare to send emergency aid to North Korea early next week,” Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said in a press briefing, noting that the aid will consist of instant noodles, bottled water, powdered milk, blankets and medicine.

Lee said that South Korea will also discuss ways of sending equipment and additional aid needed to overcome the damage in the North after transporting the emergency aid via inter-Korean sea and land routes.

International aid agencies are also trying to help the North to cope with floods that have swept away a large part of its farmland, raising the specter of worsening food shortages.

North Korea allowed the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to send four assessment teams Friday to areas struck by the flash floods.

On Thursday, the North’s state media said that about 46,580 homes had been flooded or destroyed, while more than 300,000 people were displaced. North Korean officials told international aid agencies that at least 200 people were dead or missing.

WFP officials will travel Friday to 10 hard-hit counties to assess the situation, hoping to start emergency food aid using supplies already in the country as part of ongoing hunger relief efforts.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Aug. 28-30 in Pyongyang, the first summit in seven years. The floods are not likely to have an impact on the summit, South Korean officials said.


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