The unification ministry said Tuesday that it is considering making an additional donation to global aid agencies to help North Korean people facing health and malnutrition problems.
In a report to lawmakers, the ministry said that donations could be made to such agencies as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization for their assistance projects in the impoverished North.
Earlier this month, South Korea donated $8 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF to help their work in the North. Separately, the government also announced last week it will send 50,000 tons of rice to the North via the WFP.
North Korea has been faced with worsening food shortages apparently caused by crushing global sanctions and years of unfavorable weather conditions.
The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization earlier reported, based on a visit to North Korea, that the country's crop output last year hit the lowest level since 2008, adding that an estimated 10 million people, about 40 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food.
They estimated the North will require 1.36 million tons of grain this year to cover its food shortfall.
In a report recently posted on its website, the WFP said that it needs an additional $20 million to carry out its food provision plans for North Korea in 2019.
Sanctions imposed on North Korea, however, have an "unintended" impact on the distribution of food to North Koreans in need, it said. It added that the sanctions are also causing disruption in securing the necessary funds due to restrictions on banking channels. (Yonhap)