Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seoul approves civilian humanitarian mission to N.Korea

The South Korean government approved a humanitarian group's visit to North Korea for the first time since May, when Seoul banned all exchanges with Pyongyang due to the sinking of a South Korean warship by North Korean forces.

The Ministry of Unification reported on Aug. 16 that it gave approval to two more civilians to visit the North to provide humanitarian assistance. This follows previous approval for three other South Korean civilians on Aug. 13.

These five South Korean civilians, including a doctor and two truck drivers, are members of a humanitarian mission to deliver anti-malaria medication and equipment to the communist country.

They arrived at the North Korean city of Gaeseong on Aug. 17, delivering 400 million won worth of anti-malaria aids.

This is the first approval for a civilian humanitarian mission to the North since the South Korean government prohibited all trade and exchanges with Pyongyang in the "May 24 Action" in response to the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, in Mar.

The anti-malaria aids, including diagnosis kits, mosquito netting, and anti-malaria medicines for pregnant women, will be provided to North Korean residents living in four areas near Gyeonggi-do (province), including Gaeseong.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification said in its press briefing on Aug. 13 that, "anti-malaria aids are necessary for the health of all Koreans, both in the North and South." The ministry also said, "Recently, Seoul has only allowed humanitarian aid for the North that targets infants and children, but this humanitarian assistance is in line with the principles of the South Korean government's North Korean policy in a broad sense."


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