S Korea might soon OK civilian flour aid to DPRK: report

14:59, July 19, 2011      

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Expectations are rising that South Korea will soon approve flour aid by local civic groups to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), possibly the first food aid since cross-border relations strained, reports said Tuesday.

South Korea suspended aid to its northern neighbor following two deadly incidents last year that altogether killed 50 South Koreans, though the DPRK denies its responsibility or refuses to apologize for any of the incidents.

With tougher restrictions on aid in place, Seoul has allowed only civilian humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable in the DPRK and hardly approved food aid for fear that it might be misappropriated.

Amid growing calls for food aid to the impoverished neighbor, however, Seoul is now considering allowing civic organizations here to send flour aid, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Seoul-based Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC), a pro-unification organization composed of some 200 progressive civic and religious groups, requested last week government approval to send 1,035 tons of flour to the DPRK.

Officials of the organization reportedly said they believe the request will soon be authorized, marking the first nod for food aid since alleged Pyongyang's shelling of a South Korean border island last November.

Officials here, meanwhile, said recently they are not considering providing emergency assistance to the DPRK, reportedly hit by torrential rain that triggered floods.

They also have appeared lackadaisical at best to calls for major food aid to Pyongyang by United Nations agencies, which say the DPRK is in need of 434,000 tons of food assistance to tackle its critical food shortage affecting a quarter of its 24 million population.

Source: Xinhua
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