South to Offer $10.5 Million to N. Korea for Relief

Korea Times
Lee Jin-woo

The Ministry of Unification will begin providing financial support to South Korean humanitarian aid groups, which have sent, or have plans to send, flood relief materials for North Korean victims beginning early next month.

“The ministry plans to use the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to meet the amount of contribution made by local private relief organizations under a matching fund system,” said a ministry official. “Up to 10 billion won ($10.5 million) will be subsidized for those civic groups beginning early next month.”

Once the group of those 23 South Korean organizations-which have sent or considered sending flood relief material to the communist state-submits a list of purchased aid goods, the ministry will reimburse half of the total costs, he said.

“In order to find out what North Korean victims need most urgently, we will have a working-level meeting with North Korean counterparts on Aug. 31,’’ said Shin Myung-chul, an official belonging to the group. He added civic groups are likely to purchase mostly flour and clothes as well as other necessities, but will exclude rice and other emergency relief supplies to be provided by the government through the South’s Korean National Red Cross (KNRC).

After a meeting between Red Cross officials from South and North Korea at Mt. Kumgang in the North on Saturday, the ministry announced its plan to send 100,000 tons of rice, and construction supplies and equipment to North Korea by the end of this month to help repair damages from recent flooding despite chilly inter-Korean relations after the North’s July 5 missile launches.

Vice Unification Minister Shin Un-sang told reporters on Sunday the rice aid would cost some 195 billion won ($203 million), and the shipment would also include some 26 billion won worth of construction supplies and equipment, including 100,000 tons of cement, 5,000 tons of steel and 100 trucks.

But the ministry has made it clear that the one-time aid package is unrelated to government’s periodic aid provided annually to the North that has been abruptly halted due to the missile threat.


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