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South Korea to provide aid to flood-hit North

South Korea to provide aid to flood-hit North

South Korea's government and civic groups will jointly give 20 billion won (US$21 million) in aid to flood-hit North Korea, officials announced yesterday.
The government will fund half of the joint aid, Vice Unification Minister Shin Un-sang said.
Separately, the government will also send an unspecified amount of food and other supplies to the North via the Red Cross, officials said, reversing an earlier pledge to suspend aid to protest the North's missile tests last month.
However, the government insisted that the flood aid does not represent a change in Seoul's decision to suspend regular humanitarian aid to its impoverished neighbor.
"This is nothing more than emergency aid on humanitarian grounds," Shin told reporters. "There is no condition attached to this."
Earlier this week, North Korea asked for help from the South to recover from devastating floods in mid-July that left at least 549 people dead and 295 missing. The North had previously refused South Korean aid from the Red Cross, saying it would take care of the problem itself.
South Korea has been cautious in deciding to provide assistance to the North because of its no-aid pledge over the missile tests.
But growing public calls for aid to the North have emboldened the government. The country's main opposition party, which has been skeptical of aid provisions to the communist state, has also been supportive of providing emergency aid to the North.
The aid decision boosted hopes for an improvement in inter-Korean relations, which chilled after North Korea strongly protested Seoul's decision to halt rice and fertilizer supplies until the North resolves concern over its missile and nuclear programs.
North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world as natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid-1990s. The country has relied on foreign assistance to feed its 23 million people.
Its government demanded an end to international food aid last year, claiming it didn't want to develop a culture of dependency. But it still accepted aid from China and South Korea.


Updated : 2021-10-21 06:11 GMT+08:00