South Korea says it has provided its largest food and aid donation since 2008 to the U.N. aid programme in North Korea, officials said on Wednesday, amid warnings that millions of dollars more is needed to make up for food shortages.
South Korea followed through on a promise to donate $4.5 million to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), and announced it was also providing 50,000 tonnes of rice for delivery to its northern neighbour.
North Korea has said it is facing droughts, and U.N. aid agencies have said food production fell “dramatically” in 2018 leaving more than 10 million North Koreans at risk.
“This is the largest donation from the Republic of Korea to WFP DPRK since 2008.
“This will support 1.5 to 2 million children, pregnant and nursing mothers,” WFP senior spokesman Herve Verhoosel said in a statement, referring to his agency’s operation in North Korea.
More aid would be needed, however, to make up for the shortfalls, he said.
“WFP estimates that at least 300,000 metric tons of food, valued at $275 million, is needed to scale up humanitarian assistance in support of those people most affected by significant crop losses over successive seasons,” Mr Verhoosel said.
North Korea is under strict international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
While inter-Korean engagement spiked last year amid a push to resolve the nuclear standoff, Seoul’s efforts to engage with Pyongyang have been less successful after a second U.S.-North Korea summit ended with no agreement in February.