UN to send review mission to DPRK

According to the AFP:

The United Nations will send a team to North Korea in May to assess how aid funds have been used in the country, a spokeswoman from the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs told AFP Tuesday.

“A working level UN mission will go to DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in late May to review the implementation of central emergency response fund (CERF) funded projects there,” Elisabeth Byrs said, in response to queries from AFP.

“The mission will comprise four UN staff from OCHA and from the CERF secretariat,” she said, confirming Japanese media reports.

The team would meet heads of UN agencies on site, in order to “better understand how funds provided by CERF are used,” said Byrs.

The spokeswoman did not know if the team would also meet North Korean authorities.

The UN has allocated eight million dollars in 2010 in emergency relief funds for North Korea, which has suffered more than two decades of natural disasters.

While UN agencies such as the World Food Programme, Unicef and the World Health Organisation have offices in North Korea, visits by UN missions to the secretive communist nation are extremely rare.

In the past months, however, high-level UN officials have been travelling to the country, a sign that Pyongyang may be opening up, a source close to the UN said.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe visited the country in February, and in April UN health agency chief Margaret Chan also made a trip there.

Chan said following the visit that North Korea’s health system would be the “envy” for most developing countries although it faced challenges.

“Based on what I have seen, I can tell you they have something that most other developing countries would envy,” the WHO director general told journalists, despite reports of renewed famine in parts of the country.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based welfare group with contacts in the North, had said in February that 2,000 people had starved to death there this winter.

Well that was not very subtle.

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UN to send review mission to North Korea


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