Archive for the ‘Disease prevention’ Category

Wellspring assistance in drilling water wells

Friday, March 14th, 2014

According to Wellspring’s website:

Wellspring has had the privilege to partner with several Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) in our work in North Korea. Partnering with other groups allows Wellspring to work efficiently and effectively by focusing on our specialty – drilling water wells in North Korea. We have provided wells for our partners in several areas of the country and desire to work with new partners who are currently working in North Korea.

According to Yonhap:

Private agencies in the United States have provided North Korea with aid to help its people have access to clean water and medicine, media reports said Friday.

According to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), Wellspring, a non-governmental organization in the U.S., sent a large truck to the North earlier this week to support its groundwater development project.

The aid was provided at the request of the North’s underground water development research institute, and the lorry was purchased in China, according to the RFA.

Under the vision of “Bringing living water to the people of North Korea,” James Linton, who leads the organization, has visited the communist country every year since 2007 to provide training, equipment, and expertise in the field and has drilled some 200 wells across the country.

The Connecticut-based private agency AmeriCares also recently sent medicine, medical devices and food for children worth $370,000, according to the Voice of America.

They are expected to arrive in the North next month to be delivered to hospitals and local clinics in Pyongyang and North Hwanghae, it added.

North Korea has regularly suffered from acute food and medical shortages caused mainly by isolation and natural disasters.

Read the full story here:
U.S. NGOs offer humanitarian aid to N. Korea
Yonhap
2014-3-14

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UN WFP report claims DPRK citizens undernourished

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

Eight out of every 10 North Korean families are suffering malnutrition with little access to protein foods, a U.S. media report said Tuesday.

In its survey of 87 North Korean families from January to March, the World Food Program (WFP) found that 80 percent of them were undernourished mainly due to a lack of protein intake, the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) said.

About 38 percent of those surveyed were not able to eat high-protein foods during the one week before the survey, such as meat, fish, eggs or beans, said the report, monitored in Seoul.

Quoting the WFP report, the VOA said the North Korean families, on average, eat meat 1.3 days a week or beans 1.2 days per week.

The report also said about 14 percent of the 86 hospitalized North Korean children under age 5 whom its aid workers visited during the January-March period were in serious malnutrition conditions.

Meanwhile, AmeriCares, a U.S. non-profit aid group, is about to send 10.5 tons of drugs in humanitarian assistance to the North this week, another U.S. media report said.

The aid package, which includes antibiotics, stomach medicines and dermatology drugs, will be shipped later this week to six hospitals in Pyongyang and other areas, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported. The shipment will also include personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and soaps, it said.

The RFA said the latest aid has no political consideration and is solely for humanitarian purposes.

AmeriCares began its aid to the North in 1997 as the first American private group to do so. Last year, it sent US$7 million worth of medicine for flood victims in the impoverished country.

Read the full story here:
Eight out of 10 N. Korean families undernourished: report
Yonhap
2013-5-7

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Eugene Bell sends medical aid to DPRK

Friday, April 19th, 2013

According to the Hankyoreh:

While North Korea prohibited members of the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex (CAKIC) from entering the North, it granted access to representatives of the Eugene Bell Foundation. The foundation has been providing humanitarian and medical aid to North Korea for some time.

On Apr. 18, the Eugene Bell Foundation announced that a group of nine people who had been staying in Beijing waiting for their North Korean visas, including Chairman Stephen Linton and a group of donors to the foundation, finally received their visas that afternoon and boarded a plane bound for Pyongyang.

“Even this morning, it was unclear whether they would be allowed to enter the country, but fortunately the visas were issued in the afternoon,” a representative of the foundation said.

This is being seen as showing that North Korea is linking the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue with the current political situation on the Korean peninsula, but that it is willing to receive humanitarian support. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the group visiting North Korea includes eight Americans and one French person, but no South Korean nationals.

The Eugene Bell Foundation, which operates tuberculosis clinics in eight areas in North Korea, including Pyongyang and Nampo, has sent representatives to North Korea twice each year in order to assess whether the tuberculosis medicine that it provides is being used properly. These visits continued to take place during the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-Feb. 2013).

On Mar. 22, the foundation sent North Korea 678 million won (USD$604,267) worth of tuberculosis medicine in keeping with the principles of Park Geun-hye’s trust-building process for the Korean peninsula, which does not link humanitarian aid with the North Korean nuclear weapons issue. This medication left Pyeongtaek harbor and arrived at Nampo harbor on Apr. 4 by way of Dalian, China.

Meanwhile, the owners of the businesses at the Kaesong complex that were prohibited from entering the North on Apr. 17 have decided to try once again to visit the North on Apr. 20 via the CIQ (customs, immigration, and quarantine) office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

The Ministry of Unification announced on Apr. 18 that eight more employees who had been staying in Kaesong had returned to South Korea through the CIQ office. This brought the number of South Korean employees still remaining in the complex two weeks after North Korea blocked traffic from entering to 197, less than one fourth of the original total.

Read the full story here:

N. Korea allows entrance to foreign aid group
Hankyoreh
Gil Yun-hyung
2013-4-19

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RoK approves private aid to DPRK

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

Under the approval, Eugene Bell, a South Korean charity group, will ship tuberculosis medicine worth 678 million won (US$606,500 to eight tuberculosis clinics run by the South Korean group in North Korea. The shipment is expected to be delivered in April, the official said.

This marks the first aid package approved by the ministry since Park took office on Feb. 25. The last aid request was granted in November last year under President Lee Myung-bak.

“The approval is strictly for humanitarian purposes and should not be read as a message to condone North Korea’s recent provocations,” Kim said.

“The planned medicine aid can help cure about 500 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients in the North whose lives would be at serious risk without the medicine,” the spokesman said. It is difficult for North Korea to produce quality medicine to cure the difficult type of tuberculosis, he added.

President Park has repeatedly said despite relations with the North, she will continue to allow humanitarian aid to less-privileged North Koreans as part of her signature North Korean policy to build trust with the country. She, however, pledged to sternly respond to any provocations by the North.

“The spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is so serious that North Korea is judged to have missed the crucial ‘golden time’ to root out the tuberculosis,” Stephen Linton, the chairman of Eugene Bell, said in a news conference in November following a two-week visit to the country.

The charity foundation has been running a medical service program for tuberculosis patients in the North since 2000 and sends drugs on a regular basis to the impoverished country.

Read the full story here:
Seoul approves first private-level aid provision to N. Korea under new administration
Yonhap
2013-3-22

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North Korean products in department stores on the rise

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-2-22

The number of North Korean made products is increasingly on the rise at North Korean department stores. Reportedly, 70 percent of the merchandise on the shelves in North Korea’s largest department store, Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, is North Korean made.

Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper Choson Sinbo reported on February 13 that the bestselling item is apple juice made from the Taedong River Combined Fruit Farm, sold from the kiosk located on the first floor of Pyongyang Department Store No. 1. Sonhung Food Factory products, especially bread and confectionaries, are also said to be very popular.

The newspaper commented that the regularly held product exhibition shows at the department store have created competitive environment for local factories and companies and contributed to the production of high-quality products. They also emphasized that exhibition of products began on account of recommendations of the former North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il.

It further added, “The product exhibition invites participation from light industry factories and enterprises and its affiliated units from central and regional areas as well as department stores in Pyongyang and general stores that sell industrial products.” It commended the expos to be well received by the local people for filling the shelves with local products.

The first exhibition began in December 2010, and the second and third exhibitions were held in July 2011 and January 2012, respectively. Selling of Taedong River Combined Fruit Farm products began from the third exhibition.

In an interview with Choson Sinbo, Kim Miyoung, commerce director of Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, said the following: “Employees of the department stores and our patrons never imagined a day like this would come where our department store shelves are filled with North Korea made products, especially when we were going through the difficult economic times.”

The news also reported the opening of North Korea’s first 24-hour pharmacy. Pyongsu Pharmaceutical, a joint venture company between North Korea and Switzerland, has claimed to have opened North Korea’s first 24-hour pharmacy, called Taedongmun Pharmacy, in Pyongyang last August. Pyongsu pharmaceutical joint venture company was established from September 2004 between InterPacific Group of Switzerland and Pyongyang Pharmaceutical Factory under the Ministry of Health of the DPRK. They both produce and sell pharmaceutical products in Pyongyang. Its homepage introduces nine operating pharmacies in Pyongyang. (See Pyongsu’s website for details: www.pyongsu.com.)

The first pharmacy by Pyongsu was built near the Pyongyang’s Arch of Triumph in 2006 and expanded the number of pharmacy to nine, including the Taedongmun Pharmacy. In addition, Kangan Pharmacy was highlighted in its website, boasting that all the pharmacists working at this pharmacy are graduates of Kim Il Sung University. It also boasts that it is the first pharmacy to have been equipped with blood testing equipment.

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Lee Myung-bak administration sets the lowest record for assistance to North Korea

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern studies (IFES)
2013-1-31

The total amount of assistance provided to North Korea by the South Korean government and private organizations in 2012 decreased by 28 percent against 2011, which marks six years of continuous decline.

The Ministry of Unification revealed on January 27 that the total amount of South Korean assistance to North Korea tallied 14.1 billion KRW (13 million USD), with 2.3 billion KRW (2.12 million USD) of government aid for vaccines and medical trainings and 11.8 billion KRW (10.89 million USD) from the private sector for medical supplies. This is a 28.1 percent drop from the previous year’s total of 1.96 billion KRW (18.09 million USD).

The South Korean government sent about 6.5 billion KRW (6 million USD) of medical supplies to North Korea via UNICEF and the private sector sent about 13.1 billion KRW (12.1 million USD) of malaria prevention supplies, powdered milk, soy milk, and flour.

Last year was the lowest record for humanitarian assistance to North Korea in sixteen years. Prior to this low was 1996, which recorded 3.6 billion KRW (3.3 million USD).

Lee Myung-bak administration’s aid to North Korea for the last five years reached a total of 257.5 billion KRW (236.2 million USD), with 102.4 billion KRW (93.94 million USD) in government funds and 155.1 billion KRW (142.3 million USD) from the private sector. This is equal to only 20 percent of the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s 1.275 trillion KRW (1.17 billion USD), and 44 percent of the Kim Dae-jung administration’s 582.9 billion KRW (534.8 million USD) of total aid to North Korea.

The highest record for South Korean humanitarian aid to North Korea was in 2006 at 298 billion KRW (273.4 million USD), in both government and private sector aid and continued to remain at a high level in 2007 with 289 billion KRW (265.1 million USD) in 2007. However, with the launch of the Lee Myung-bak government in 2008, it dropped to 116 billion KRW (106 million USD), and continued the downward slide recording 67.1 billion KRW (61.6 million USD) in 2009; 40.4 billion KRW (37.06 million USD) in 2010; 19.1 billion KRW in 2011 (17.5 million USD); and 14.1 billion KRW (12.9 million USD) in 2012.

The source of the drop in humanitarian assistance can be attributed to deadlocked inter-Korean relations followed by the shooting death of a Mount Kumgang tourist in 2008; long-range rocket launch and second nuclear test in 2009; and Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island incidents in 2010.

From 1995 to 2012, the total amount of humanitarian aid to North Korea from the South Korean government was 1.48 trillion KRW (1.36 billion USD) and from the private sector was 871 billion KRW (799.1 million USD), equating to about 2.347 trillion KRW (2.15 billion USD) in total.

Meanwhile, international humanitarian aid to North Korea increased 30 percent in 2012 against the previous year. According to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), total aid to North Korea in 2012 was 113 million USD while the previous year reached 89.2 million USD. It quadrupled to the total amount, 24.4 million USD of 2010.

Nineteen countries joined in the effort to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea such as South Korea, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, Brazil, and Sweden. In 2010, there were only six countries, and it later increased to seventeen countries in 2011. The OCHA announced that the humanitarian aid provided in 2012 focused mainly on improving the food supply and nutrition, and provided agricultural support.

UPDATE: Here is a similar report in Yonhap (2013-1-27):

South Korea’s humanitarian aid to North Korea dropped 28 percent to a record 16-year low last year, the unification ministry said Sunday, as the cross-border relations remained chilled under Seoul’s outgoing government of President Lee Myung-bak.

Seoul’s humanitarian aid to the impoverished North totaled 14.1 billion won (US$13.1 million), compared with 19.6 billion won a year earlier. Last year’s amount is the lowest since 1996 when only 3.6 billion won was provided to the North in humanitarian aid.

The sharp drop came as relations between the two Koreas remained frozen since the North sank a South Korean warship near their Yellow Sea border in March 2010 and then shelled a border island in November that year. Pyongyang’s nuclear test and rocket launches also affected their ties.

The total amount of assistance the South provided the North during the five years of President Lee was 257.5 billion won, including 155.1 billion won of civilian aid. The total amount is only 20 percent of the aid sent during the presidency of Lee’s predecessor, the former late President Roh Moo-hyun.

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UNICEF: DPRK Preliminary Report of the National Nutrition Survey 2012

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Download the full report (PDF) here.

I have also added it to my “DPRK Economic Statistics Page”.

Here is the Executive Summary:

The last nationwide survey including nutrition indicators was the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out in 2009. It showed that 32.4% of children

The present survey was therefore needed to update the indicators for the population nutritional status. All 10 provinces have been included. Data collection was done from September 17th to October 17th 2012.

The methodology is based on SMART and MICS surveys. It is a clustered, stratified by provinces, two-stage sampling survey. The target population includes children under 5 and their mothers. The sample size per province is 400 children in Pyongyang municipality and 812 children in all other provinces for most indicators.

Chronic malnutrition, despite a modest drop since MICS 2009 (from 32.3% to 27.9% at national level) remains in the ranges labelled ‟medium‟. Stunting has irreversible impact on the development of children as a result on the Country development. The prevention of stunting in early life (starting during or even before pregnancy) as well as the prevention of anaemia in mothers and their children (mainly those under 2 years old) through different multi-sectoral interventions combining nutrition, health, WASH, social protection, food security and agriculture requires more efforts and resources.

The survey also shows a picture of the acute nutritional status of children modestly improved since 2009. The situation is not critical and does not suggest emergency operations. However, attentions need to be paid to such factors as essential medicines, WASH situation and food security which affect the vulnerable children. The presence of acute malnutrition in women is also of concern. Programmes like the management of acute malnutrition at hospital and community levels (CMAM) need to be continued and expanded. Provision of nutritious food for children at institutions should also continue. On-going monitoring of the nutritional situation is important to identify the trends and changes in the situation and bring support as soon as possible when the situation is negatively changing.

In reference to the MDG 1, the achievement in decreasing underweight over time (from 60.6% in 1998 (MICS1 to 15.5% in the actual survey), as well as chronic and acute malnutrition, are primarily due to concerted efforts between the Government, the UN Agencies and others partners in DPRK in addressing the different causes of malnutrition. But malnutrition still remains and requires continued and strengthened interventions on chronic and acute malnutrition in order to have more impact on the underweight prevalence and to ensure a more optimal growth to the children.

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DPRK child nourishment

Monday, March 26th, 2012

According to the Choson Ilbo:

Nearly two-thirds of North Korean children under 10, or some 2.2 million, suffer from growth disorders related to malnutrition and 18,000 of them are so undernourished that their life is at risk, according to a study.

Hwang Na-mi [황나미], a researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs in Seoul, published her findings in the March issue of the journal Health and Welfare Forum on Sunday. She analyzed a nutrition assessment conducted in the North by the UNICEF in cooperation with the North’s Central Statistics Bureau in 2004 and 2009.

According to the study, 2.2 million or 61.7 percent of the North’s 3.55 million children under 10 were underweight, chronically malnourished with stunted growth, or acutely undernourished with a frail physique. Some numbers overlap.

Some 320,000 or 18.8 percent of children aged 0-4 years were underweight, and 430,000 or 23.1 percent of those aged 5-9. Five-year-old North Korean boys weighed less than 14.1 kg and girls less than 13.7 kg on average, about 4 kg lighter than their South Korean peers.

Some 1.23 million or 34.7 percent of children under nine showed stunted growth for their age due to malnutrition. Some 210,000 or 6 percent were frailly built and underweight for their height as a result of acute malnutrition.

Conditions varied widely between regions. In Ryanggang Province, which has no proper food rations and suffers from a lack of farmland, a massive 82.1 percent of children were undernourished, nearly double the percentage in the capital Pyongyang (43.5 percent). Next came South Hamgyong, North Hamgyong, and Jagang provinces.

“The health of North Korean children has improved thanks to food aid from the international community, but most of them are still undernourished,” Hwang said. “Some 0.5 percent of the North’s entire child population are at a high risk of dying of diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia or diarrhea because their immune system is so weak due to extreme malnutrition.”

 

Yonhap also reported on this same report:

The life expectancy of an average North Korean stood at 69.3, 10.8 years lower than comparable figure for a South Korean, a report by a social health institute said Sunday.

The report by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) based on a census conducted in 2008, showed the average life expectancy for North Korean men standing at 65.6 years, while for women it reached 72.7.

In the same year, an average South Korean was expected to live 80.1 years. Men and women were expected to live 76.5 years and 83.3 years, respectively, in the cited year.

The latest report also showed the health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) in North Korea stood at 58 in 2007 compared to 71 in South Korea. HALE refers to the average number of years that a person can expect to live without serious health problems.

KIHASA’s findings said death while giving birth reached 77.2 per every 100,000 mothers in the communist country in 2008, up from 54 in 1993. This is five times higher than the maternal death rate in South Korea.

The infant mortality rate in the North stood at 19.3 for every 1,000, which is again five times higher vis-a-vis the South.

Other illnesses cited for fatalities were also high, with tuberculosis accounting for 344 deaths per every 100,000 in 2010 in North Korea. This is much higher than 97 deaths caused by the same disease in the South.

The institute said that judging by the data, health conditions for people living in North Korea seem to have deteriorated over the years. It added that data released by international agencies such as the Nations Children’s Fund showed a gloomier picture of health conditions in the impoverished country, indicating that Pyongyang’s official census may not be totally reliable.

The actual census data can be found here.

Read the full stories here:
Most North Korean Children Under Nourished
Choson Ilbo 
2012-3-26

N. Korea’s life expectancy 10 years lower than South: report
Yonhap
2012-3-25

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South Korea vaccinates 4 million children in DPRK

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

According to Yonhap:

South Korea has helped vaccinate nearly 4 million North Korean children against hepatitis B over the past two years despite tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a German relief agency official has said.

South Korea has provided vaccines worth US$2.37 million to North Korea from 2010 to February 2012 through Caritas Germany as part of its medical aid to the impoverished country, said Wolfgang Gerstner, a consultant of Caritas Germany.

Here is a little information on Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the liver due to infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis B infection can be spread through having contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and other body fluids of someone who already has a hepatitis B infection.

Infection can be spread through:

1. Blood transfusions (not common in the United States)

2. Direct contact with blood in health care settings

3. Sexual contact with an infected person

4. Tattoo or acupuncture with unclean needles or instruments

5. Shared needles during drug use

6. Shared personal items (such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers) with an infected person

7. The hepatitis B virus can be passed to an infant during childbirth if the mother is infected.

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2011 ROK aid to the DPRK

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

UPDATE 32 (2012-1-27): According to an article in the New York Times, inter-Korean trade and aid declined in 2011:

On Friday, the South’s Unification Ministry said that South Korean aid to the North fell to 19.6 billion won, or $17.5 million, last year [2011], down more than 51 percent from a year earlier [2010].

Inter-Korean trade fell by more than 10 percent [from 2010 to 2011] to about $1.5 million in 2011, the ministry said.

UPDATE 31 (2011-12-10): According to the Korea Times, the potential food aid is not being auctioned off.  It is being sent to South America. According to the article:

Seoul will send baby food originally offered as aid to North Korea to El Salvador following Pyongyang’s refusal to accept delivery, to help the South American country deal with damaging floods, officials said Friday.

The delivery consists of 190,000 packs of baby food that were part of a $4.4 million flood aid package to the North, which the Stalinist regime rejected two months ago amid high tension.

It was slated to depart from the port city of Busan via cargo ship for El Salvador, which has appealed for help to deal with floods that displaced tens of thousands earlier this year.

Seoul offered the aid, which also included biscuits and instant noodles, to help the North deal with torrential summer rains. But Pyongyang demanded cement and equipment instead and eventually shunned the offer altogether.

The rerouting of the items underscores lingering tension despite efforts to warm ties and eventually resume regional dialogue on dismantling the North’s nuclear program. Regional players want the situation on the peninsula to improve before the talks begin.

Pyongyang’s silence over the aid put a damper on the early signs of improvement. President Lee Myung-bak has been exercising a softer line since September, when he tapped close aide Yu Woo-ik as unification minister, including expanding humanitarian activities and cultural exchanges.

But the North, apparently seeking rice and other forms of massive aid, has recently slammed the flexible policy as political pandering to the South Korean public, which is gearing up for elections next year.

Such remarks come even as the unification ministry continues to approve northbound aid, including $5.65 million worth for infants, children and pregnant women through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Consultations are ongoing over how to provide more of the baby food. Seoul has also attempted to auction some of it off through a government website.

The North Korean regime is thought to be doing all it can to secure food and other handouts ahead of next April, when it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung. Watchers say that the North is liable to alternate pressure and peace offensives to secure as much aid as it can through inter-Korean and multilateral channels.

 

UPDATE 30 (2011-12-6): According to the Korean Herald the first auction of potential food aid (See Update 27 below) did not go so well, so Seoul is trying again:

South Korea plans a second attempt to auction off baby food originally intended for North Korean children, officials said Tuesday.

The move comes after nobody bid for 540,000 packs of baby food on Onbid, an auction Web site run by the state-run Korea Asset Management Corp.

South Korea plans to issue a second public notice and adjust the prices, said an official handling the issue at the Unification Ministry. He did not elaborate on further details.

The baby food is part of 5 billion won ($4.4 million) worth of emergency relief aid South Korea had planned to ship to North Korean flood victims earlier this year.

South Korea dropped that plan in October after differences between the two Koreas on the items to be sent. South Korea had insisted it would deliver baby food, biscuits and instant noodles to the North, instead of the cement and equipment its communist neighbor had requested.

Separately, South Korea has been in talks with local private relief agencies over how to donate another 290,000 packs of baby food to other countries, according to another ministry official.

She declined to give further details, saying consultations are taking place.

UPDATE 29 (2011-12-5): The South Koreans will donate US$5.65 million to the DPRK via UNICEF.  Accoring to Yonhap:

South Korea said Monday it will donate US$5.65 million (about 6.5 billion won) for humanitarian projects in North Korea through the U.N. body responsible for the rights of children.

The donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, will benefit about 1.46 million infants, children and pregnant women in North Korea, according to the Unification Ministry, which is in charge of relations with the North.

Seoul’s contribution will be used to provide vaccines and other medical supplies as well as to treat malnourished children next year, said the ministry.

There have been concerns that a third of all North Korean children under five are chronically malnourished and that many more children are at risk of slipping into acute stages of malnutrition unless targeted assistance is sustained.

“The decision is in line with the government’s basic stance of maintaining its pure humanitarian aid projects for vulnerable people regardless of political situation,” Unification Ministry spokesman Choi Boh-seon told reporters.

South Korea has been seeking flexibility in its policies toward the North to try to improve their strained relations over the North’s two deadly attacks on the South last year.

South Korea donated $20 million for humanitarian projects in North Korea through the UNICEF between 1996 and 2009.

Last month, the South also resumed some $6.94 million worth of medical aid to the impoverished communist country through the World Health Organization.

..

Separately, South Korea also decided to give 2.7 billion won ($2.3 million) to a foundation to help build emergency medical facilities in an industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.

More than 47,000 North Koreans work at about 120 South Korean firms operating in the industrial zone to produce clothes, utensils, watches and other goods. The project serves as a key legitimate cash cow for the impoverished communist country.

UPDATE 28 (2011-12-1): Distribution of private aid monitored in N.Korea. According to the Hankyoreh:

“North Koreans know that the wheat flour aid they received came from South Korea.”

These were the words of Cho Joong-hoon, director of the Unification Ministry’s humanitarian assistance division, during a meeting with reporters Wednesday at the Central Governmental Complex in Seoul upon his return from a recent visit to North Korea to monitor the distribution of aid.

“The name of the South Korean private aid group, the manufacturing company, the date, and the address were all printed on the packages of flour,” Cho said.

Arriving in North Korea on Sunday with Kim Min-ha, co-chairman of the private group Ambassadors for Peace, and three others, Cho visited three sites to observe the distribution of the 300 tons of flour provided in aid. The site were the Namchol Kindergarten, February 16 Refinery Kindergarten, and Tongmun Nursery in Chongju, North Pyongan.

It was the first visit to any part of North Korea besides Kaseong and Mt. Kumkang by a government official in the one year since the Yeonpyeong Island artillery attack on Nov. 23, 2010.

Cho said that the distribution, storage, preparation, and supply of the flour were monitored and that everything was confirmed to be proceeding as planned.

On the situation on the ground, Cho said, “Judging simply from the nursery and two kindergartens, the children’s nutritional condition does not appear to be good.” Cho noted that no heating was being supplied to the facilities despite the cold weather.

Cho said that while North Korean authorities did not official request food aid, a request was made under unofficial circumstances.

Cho also noted that construction efforts were under way on a highway connecting Pyongyang with Sinuiju.

“It is not very far from Pyongyang to Chongju, but I think the trip took about four hours because of the detour around the highway construction,” he said.

Analysts said this appears to be linked to hurried infrastructure building efforts, including highway servicing and construction, amid recent moves by North Korea to rebuild its economy through a stronger economic partnership with China.

UPDATE  27 (2011-11-29): Seoul auctions off “unwanted” DPRK food assistance. According ot the Korea Times:

South Korea has taken steps to auction off some baby food originally intended for North Korean children, an official said Tuesday.

The move comes nearly two months after South Korea dropped a plan to send 5 billion won ($4.3 million) worth of aid to North Korean flood victims, citing no response from the North as the reason for the change of plan.

South Korea had insisted it would deliver baby food, biscuits and instant noodles to the North instead of cement and equipment requested by the North.

South Korea’s Red Cross, which handles relief aid to the North, gave public notice of a bid for 540,000 packs of baby food on Onbid, an auction website run by the state-run Korea Asset Management Corp.

Separately, South Korea has been in talks with local private relief agencies over how to donate the other 290,000 packs of baby food to foreign countries.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik has ruled out rice aid to the communist country unless Pyongyang admits to last year’s deadly provocations.

South Korea suspended unconditional aid in 2008 and imposed sanctions on the North last year in retaliation for the sinking of a South Korean warship that was blamed on the North.

The North has denied involvement in the sinking that killed 46 sailors. It also shelled a South Korean border island in November 2010, killing four South Koreans.

Still, South Korea has selectively allowed religious and private aid groups to deliver humanitarian and medical assistance to North Korea.

Also on Tuesday, a Unification Ministry official and four civilians were to return home after a rare trip to the North aimed at ensuring that South Korea’s recent private aid had reached its intended beneficiaries.

UPDATE 26 (2011-11-25): According to Yonhap, ROK officials are traveling to the DPRK to monitor food aid:

A South Korean official and four civilians left for North Korea on Friday on a rare mission to ensure that recent aid from Seoul had reached its intended beneficiaries, an official said.

The trip comes a day after North Korea threatened to turn South Korea’s presidential office into “a sea of fire” in anger over Seoul’s massive military maneuvers near the tense sea border.

The Unification Ministry official and four civilians were to arrive in the North’s capital later Friday via Beijing, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

It is first time that North Korea has allowed a South Korean official to travel to the isolated country to monitor aid since a conservative government took power in Seoul in 2008.

They are scheduled to visit a day care center and two other child care facilities in the northwestern city of Jongju to monitor how 300 tons of flour were distributed to children and other recipients, according to a civic group.

Ambassadors for Peace Association, a civic group that is partly funded by the Unification Group, donated the flour to Jongju, the birthplace of Unification Church founder Moon Sun-myung.

The civic group said the monitors also plan to discuss details on another 300 tons of flour aid before returning home Tuesday. Some members of the civic group are associated with the controversial Unification Church.

Read previous posts on the ROK’s aid to the DPRK in 2011 below:

(more…)

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