The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expects to see Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shipped to North Korea this week by land from China, the UN agency told journalists on Tuesday, amid ongoing efforts by international organizations to help North Korea in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The news comes weeks after the report that UNICEF was requested by the North’s Ministry of Public Health to provide “support for procurement of PPE” — and that the agency is working with the WHO and other international organizations for such aid.
“The Ministry of Public Health in the DPRK requested UNICEF’s support for the procurement of PPE equipment,” UNICEF said in an email distributed to journalists earlier this week.
“We expect to receive a shipment of face shields, goggles, masks, gowns, coveralls and gloves (PPE equipment) this week by land from China,” the UN agency said.
“Additional masks, gloves, and thermometers will be included in this delivery,” it added. “This is part of our ongoing work with the World Health Organization and other international organizations, and the government to stop transmission of COVID-19, and to keep children and their families safe.”
While it appears that the organization will send anti-viral equipment through the China-DPRK border, UNICEF has not given further details on the route through which the shipment will be made.
It is also likely that upon the arrival of the PPE the UN agency sent to North Korea the cargo will be subjected to the country’s 10-day isolation rule on imported items at ports and other import-export examination and quarantine stations — unless COVID-19 related goods receive an exemption to such regulation.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) last Friday reported that cargo entering the DPRK “through the border and the ports” is being quarantined and isolated for 10 days before “transferring them to relevant units,” citing rules and regulations regarding imported items in a guidebook reportedly redistributed by state organs.
“The Government of DPRK is and has been conducting public information campaigns through TV and media, and in public places to inform the public on preventive measures,” UNICEF said in an email to journalists this week.
“UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations, and the government in the response.”
World Health Organization (WHO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) received exemptions from international sanctions from the UN late February to ship equipment into the DPRK for diagnosing and managing the coronavirus.
While North Korea until late last week continued to claim that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders, it remains to be seen if the UN and NGO-provided medical equipment set to arrive in the coming days will reveal any infections.
Asked about the prospects of PPE and other equipment being shipped into the DPRK, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) said that “the government authority is to notify WHO if confirmed [COVID-19] cases arise in North Korea.”
“We are aware only of how the shipment [of COVID-19 related procurement] will be made by land, through China,” an MOU official told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are not aware of whether or not [the shipment] has been delivered” to North Korea so far, the official added.
Meanwhile, UNICEF in its report “East Asia and Pacific Region Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation Report No. 2,” released on March 13, said that the agency needs an additional $540,312 to help North Korea manage the disease.
This funding would come as part of the Humanitarian Appeal for Children (HAC) the agency launched seeking $42.3 million for global initiatives, of which a total of $27.02 million is set for the East Asia and Pacific regional response plan budget.
$840,312 was allocated to North Korea, according to the UNICEF report, but so far $300,000 has been funded.
Edited by James Fretwell
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) expects to see Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shipped to North Korea this week by land from China, the UN agency told journalists on Tuesday, amid ongoing efforts by international organizations to help North Korea in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The news comes weeks after the report that UNICEF was requested by the North's Ministry of Public Health to provide "support for procurement of PPE" -- and that the agency is working with the WHO and other international organizations for such aid.