The government will provide medicines and food for 1.46 million children and pregnant women in North Korea through UNICEF, a spokesman said Monday. A committee under the Unification Ministry recently decided to donate US$5.65 million to UNICEF for the purpose.
The goods include various vaccines for babies, infants, and pregnant women; 10,500 essential medical kits for children; and food supplements, iron and folic acid supplements and nutrients for malnourished children. This will be the first time since 2009 that Seoul has given aid to the North through UNICEF.
The move is part of a more conciliatory line trodden by the new Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik. In a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Nov. 5, Yu pledged to consider resuming government-level humanitarian aid to the North through a UN agency. On Nov. 8, he approved resumption of aid to the North through the World Health Organization.
Pyongyang tamped down on verbal attacks on Seoul after Yu was inaugurated but last Friday denounced the conciliatory line as "propaganda fraud" and "lip service," apparently because no material support had been forthcoming so far.
A ministry official said, "We can't respond to the North every time. We need more time to watch the situation."