United Nation official says North Korea needs food, medicine, clean water

Aid – around 40% of the population in North Korea needs humanitarian aid the UN has said More

Aid – around 40% of the population in North Korea needs humanitarian aid the UN has said More

Upon completing his trip, Mark Lowcock expressed hopes of increasing humantarian assistance to the hermit kingdom.

Lowcock's visit was the first to the DPRK by a United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator in seven years.

There is "very clear evidence of humanitarian need" in North Korea, the top United Nations aid official has said during the first visit of its kind to the isolated country since 2011.

Speaking at a press conference in Pyongyang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said funding was the greatest obstacle his organization faces in assisting North Korea.

During the visit, he was able to see first-hand both progress that has been made on the humanitarian front and the persisting challenges.

Lowcock spoke positively of North Korea's progress on humanitarian issues since the starvation of the 1990s, but also said there was still much to be done on such issues including "malnutrition, better water and sanitation, and more life-saving drugs and other medical supplies".

The proportion of children affected by stunting, a failure to develop physically and cognitively, has fallen to 20 percent from 28 percent in 2011, but that "is still a high number", Lowrock said.

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The UN earlier this year called for $111 million in aid to help improve nutrition, health and sanitation in the North but the programme remains 90 percent underfunded.

Convincing donor states that their contributions could "save lives and reduce suffering" by providing North Koreans with much-needed food, drugs and other medical supplies would remain a top priority, Lowcock said.

The UN official also met with the North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam as well as health minister Jang Jun Sang during the visit.

It's expected that they discussed the progress made over the past 20 years. and more importantly, the humanitarian needs that still exist.

He also toured a food factory and a rehabilitation center for children. and checked up on several aid projects.

Choi Si-young, Arirang News.

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