Yoon Sang-hyun, Chair of the Foreign Affairs and nification Committee at the National Assembly of South Korea, issued a statement urging the South Korean government to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea for relief from suspected food shortages due to COVID-19.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced this month that North Korea—among others—is facing potentially severe food insecurity due to border closures and disruptions in the global supply chain. The Ministry of Unification of South Korea estimated that the food shortage in North Korea will amount to 860,000 tons this year.
In light of such circumstances, Yoon emphasized the need to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea, highlighting that the most vulnerable people including children will be most affected by the food crisis. To ensure that food relief is provided to those in need, he suggested that the World Food Programme (WFP) Pyongyang office could monitor the dissemination process. The South Korean government has already allocated US$34 million (KRW41.4 billion) to WFP to provide rice to North Korea, but these funds were not disbursed due to North Korea’s refusal.
In addition to food supplies, Yoon also requested that South Korea provide necessary medical supplies and dispatch health and medical personnel to support North Korea in combatting COVID-19.
In response to Yoon’s statement, Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul stated that the Ministry of Unification is preparing for a comprehensive and sustainable measure on inter-Korean health and medical cooperation. Minister Kim also emphasized the need for wide public support on providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea and called for support from the National Assembly on the matter.
News article – The Herald (in Korean)
News article – News 1 (in Korean)