March 12, 2014 11:51
A South Korean charity will send the biggest consignment of food aid to North Korea since the Park Geun-hye administration took office here.
ChildFund Korea will dispatch about 200 tons of food from Incheon Port on Wednesday morning bound for the North Korean port of Nampo, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The shipment is worth about W200 million (US$1=W1,065) and marks the first in recent years to go beyond medical or nursery supplies for infants.
The 180 tons of wheat flour and 20 tons of nutritious soybean flour will be distributed through the North's National Reconciliation Council, a working group for inter-Korean exchanges, to about 23,000 young children in 332 daycare centers and 29,000 mothers and pregnant women in Nampo.
It is the equivalent of about 10 days' worth of rations.
The humanitarian aid program has been hampered as access to North Koreans is restricted amid tense cross-border relations in the wake of the North's nuclear test and temporary suspension of the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex last year.
South Korean charities have only been able to ship supplies to the North on 10 occasions since the Park administration's inauguration.
ChildFund Korea last supplied food to flood-hit regions in October 2012. Only late last year did it agree with a North Korean agency to send food aid this year.
The group is transporting the food by ship via the Chinese city of Dandong to circumvent Seoul's restrictions on overland cross-border transport.
ChildFund Korea chief Lee Je-hoon said, "We urgently need to give humanitarian aid to improve nutrition for the most vulnerable North Koreans estimated at least at 6.1 million."
Staff will be sent to the North in April, when the last food shipment is delivered, to monitor proper distribution.
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