U.N. guidelines expected to boost S. Korea’s aid plan for N. Korea

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- New U.N. guidelines on humanitarian aid for North Korea are expected to provide a much-needed boost to efforts to help the country's people in need, government officials here said Tuesday.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council approved the U.S.-drafted rules meant to facilitate assistance for the North's residents.

Under the guidelines, endorsed by the panel in New York on Monday (local time), U.N. and other aid groups will be quickly granted a waiver of exemptions for operations in the North by the council committee that oversees the implementation of sanctions on the regime.

It came in response to multiple reports that the impoverished communist nation is suffering from a drop in food production and a hike in the number of the malnourished.

"(The government) expects it to become a chance for resolving realistic difficulties in North Korea aid activities and vitalizing the international community's assistance for it," a Ministry of Unification official told reporters. The ministry is in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The official said there's "no direct link" between the U.N. move and Seoul's pending plan to offer $8 million worth of aid materials, including nutritional products and vaccines, to Pyongyang via the World Food Program and UNICEF.

The aid decision was made in September last year, but the program was suspended due to negative public opinions amid increased tensions attributable to the North's continued provocations. The budgets remain unused.

The official said the ministry will push for the provision of assistance "at an appropriate time" in consideration of various conditions in consultation with the international agencies.

Another official said, "The provision of $8 million is what our government has promised. It's expected to pick up speed going forward."

The U.N. measure will also likely widen the room for Seoul to seek additional humanitarian aid for Pyongyang.

Separately speaking to reporters, a foreign ministry official also said the guidelines are aimed at easing troubles in the process of delivering assistance to the North, with several sanctions resolutions in place.

"It is expected to be helpful for the government to seek humanitarian assistance for North Korea," he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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