‘Clear evidence of need’ in N. Korea: UN aid chief

UN aid chief'Too much suffering in N Korea despite progress

Its 2017 plan appealed for USD$113 million but received only 31% of the total asked for - including $5 million from Switzerland, $3 million from Russian Federation, and $1 million from the United States.

The UN delegation began a four-day visit to North Korea on Monday, during which it also visited the Pyongyang Children's Foodstuff Factory, the Tower of the Juche Idea and the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability, the KCNA report said.

In a video posted on his Twitter account, Lowcock said, "One of the things we've seen is very clear evidence of humanitarian need here".

Among children under five, 20 percent have experienced stunted growth. and almost half of children in rural areas don't have access to safe drinking water.

He said that North Korean authorities are "keen to work with humanitarian agencies and are open to additional humanitarian assistance, and are also keen to deal with humanitarian issues separately from political dynamics".

They also, he added, offered justification for the DPRK's simultaneous use of global aid for humanitarian purposes and the spending of state funds on "economic development". "From 28 percent to 20 percent is an improvement, but 20 percent is still a high number", Lowcock said at a press conference in the capital on Wednesday, according to the United Nations.

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He pointed out that DPRK still faces a lot of challenges in child malnutrition, lack of safe water, and above all, medical supply shortages in hospitals and nurseries.

The Global Fund, however, pulled out of North Korea earlier this year, citing an inability to deploy resources or manage the "unique operating environment".

But both the United Nations and the World Food Programme (WFP) have expressed satisfaction with improving access this year, with Lowcock saying Wednesday in Pyongyang that there was "better access across the country for United Nations staff than we have had in the past".

He also noted that there is a shortage of drugs and medical supplies and equipment, making it very hard for medical authorities to meet the needs of all the people "in a way that would pass basic humanitarian thresholds".

The UN humanitarian affairs chief has said North Korea made progress against undernourishment since UN's last visit to Pyongyang in 2011, but there was "still too much suffering".

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