More than 10 million people in North Korea – 40% of the population – need humanitarian aid, the United Nations has said.
The situation was highlighted in a visit by the UN’s Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock, who made the first visit of its kind to the country since 2011.
He found that around 20% of children in North Korea suffer from malnutrition, highlighting the need for more funding for humanitarian aid.
And while access for humanitarian workers was improving, he noted that funding was falling short.
While visiting a hospital, he said there were 140 tuberculosis patients but only enough drugs to treat 40 of them.
Mr Lowcock posted a video after travelling around the country during his visit, which also saw him meet with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.
“One of the things we’ve seen is very clear evidence of humanitarian need here,” he said. “More than half the children in rural areas, including the places we’ve been, have no clean water, contaminated water sources.”
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UN officials have warned that international sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are exacerbating humanitarian problems by slowing aid deliveries.
It said it had to stop nutrition support for kindergartens in North Korea in November because of a lack of funds, while its “2018 Needs and Priorities Plan” in the country is 90% underfunded.