'Clear evidence of humanitarian need' in North Korea: U.N. aid chief

The problem is the backwardness of the country's agriculture system

The UN's humanitarian chief, who wrapped up a three-day visit to North Korea this week, says the UN hopes to increase its humanitarian assistance to the country.

Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told a news conference in Pyongyang on Wednesday that much progress has been made in the last 20 years but "significant humanitarian challenges" remain.

Mark Lowcock, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told a press briefing that he held talks with DPRK officials and reviewed the impact of global humanitarian assistance as well as challenges facing the country.

Lowcock posted a video online outlining his observations after traveling to several areas in the southwest of the country.

"One of things I will be doing when I return to NY in talking to the Member States of the United Nations is trying to draw people's attention to the very real humanitarian challenges here, and to say to them that the United Nations has good programmes, which can save lives, and we have better access across the country for United Nations staff than we have had in the past", he said.

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Lowcock said about 20 percent of North Korea's children have suffered malnutrition and more than half of the North's children in rural areas, including the places Lowcock's team has seen, lack clean water.

Lowcock stressed that the United Nations will raise funds to meet those needs - something that's been hard amid worldwide sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile development.

And while access for humanitarian workers was improving, he noted that funding was falling short.

Lowcock and his party also met the North Korean Minister of Public Health, Jang Jun-sang, at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, reports Efe news. In particular, in one of the visited hospitals had medicines only for 40 of the 140 patients with tuberculosis.

Tapan Mishra, UN Resident Coordinator in North Korea, appealed in the "2018 DPR Korea Needs and Priorities Plan" for countries to "not to let political considerations get in the way" of their decision to donate.

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