The South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Friday that new UN sanctions have increased the need for Seoul to send humanitarian aid to the North.
The comments came in the aftermath of Pyongyang’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan, and a day after the unification ministry said that it will decide next week on plans to send over USD$8 million in aid to the North via international organizations.
“With regard to the urgency… the most powerful sanctions resolution was adopted,” Vice Spokesperson of the Ministry of Unification, Lee Eugene, said.
“It is now predicted that the North Korean economy will be inevitably hit by strong sanctions and will not be able to escape,” Lee said, referring to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2375 which was unanimously passed on Monday.
Lee reiterated that resulting economic downturn would likely affect the underprivileged class, saying this would include children, pregnant women, and elderly people.
Stopping aid, he said, would be “contrary to the spirit of the UN.”
The unification ministry said on Thursday the administration is considering the provision of USD$4.5 million to a WFP plan to improve the nutritional status of children and pregnant women, and USD$3.5 million to UNICEF projects supplying essential medicines, vaccines, and medicine for treating malnutrition in children and pregnant women.
Lee said Article 26 of the recent resolution permitted humanitarian assistance to the North.
“…this resolution are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK or to affect negatively or restrict those activities, including economic activities and cooperation, food aid and humanitarian assistance…,” the article reads.
The MOU also said that South Korea was not the only country which provides humanitarian aid to the North.
“The U.S., Russia, and France who are the permanent members of the Security Council, have continued to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea through UN international organizations this year,” Lee said. “The U.S. contributed USD$1 million via UNICEF.”
The Moon Jae-in administration has maintained the position of “pursuing humanitarian aid consistently separated from political and military situations.”
In response to a question on South Korea aid to the North, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday said that actions which undermined international pressure on the DPRK should be avoided.
“Any other actions otherwise should be refrained,” Suga told media.
In response, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) defended the move.
“We have been closely consulting with the countries including the U.S. and Japan over the basic position on the humanitarian aid and overall policy to North Korea,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told media during a regular news briefing.
“We also explained this case in advance.”
A concrete decision on the provision will be made at the meeting of the Inter-Korean Exchanges and Cooperation Promotion Council on September 21.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
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