Aid chief says ‘clear evidence of humanitarian need’ in North Korea

North Korea's Minister of Health Jang Jun Sang meets with UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Lowcork in Pyongyang

North Korea's Minister of Health Jang Jun Sang meets with UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Lowcork in Pyongyang

Choi Si-young zooms in on the outcome of the first such visit in seven years.

Mark Lowcock s visit to the impoverished, isolated country this week is the first such trip by a United Nations undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator since 2011.

The United Nations humanitarian chief said Wednesday he had seen "clear evidence" of need in North Korea - where one fifth of children are malnourished - during a rare trip.

The UN's humanitarian chief, who wrapped up a three-day visit to North Korea this week, says the UN hopes to increase its humanitarian assistance to the country.

At a press conference on Wednesday in Pyongyang, he said that although Pyongyang has made significant advances, there are still many challenges ahead when it comes to health and sanitation.

He found that around 20% of children in North Korea suffer from malnutrition, highlighting the need for more funding for humanitarian aid.

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Citing a recent UNICEF survey of 8500 households in the country facilitated by the North Korean government, Lowcock said 20% of the population was experiencing stunted development due to malnutrition and other health-related issues.

He also talked about a lack of medical supplies, specifically mentioning those needed for treating tuberculosis - an area which has in the past benefited from large donations by the Global Fund and assistance from organizations such as the Eugene Bell Foundation.

The North has a fragile economy and has long struggled to feed its people, and is under multiple layers of UN Security Council sanctions over a series of nuclear and missile tests staged in violation of UN resolutions.

Mr Lowcock posted a video after travelling around the country during his visit, which also saw him meet with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

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

Choi Si-young, Arirang News.

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