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UN adopts measures to facilitate humanitarian aid to North Korea

Muslim Times(Web Desk) -The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted measures to ensure that tough sanctions imposed on North Korea would not hinder the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian aid to the country.

The measures, which were proposed by the United States last month, were approved on Monday after weeks of negotiations.

North Korea recorded a decline in total food production last year, and about half of its population, meaning roughly 10 million people, are undernourished, according to the UN.

UN sanctions resolutions against North Korea state that the bans should not affect humanitarian aid, but relief organizations say that strict trade and banking measures effectively hinder the flow of vital supplies.

The US proposals called for new guidelines to allow aid groups and UN agencies to quickly gain exemptions from the council committee that oversees the implementation of the sanctions.

The US has been negotiating with North Korea to have the Asian country denuclearize.

On June 12, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in a historic summit and signed a brief, broadly-worded document in which they agreed to work toward denuclearization.

But follow-on diplomacy has been slow.

The US has said it would maintain its tough sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearizes. Pyongyang says Washington must do more to reciprocate North Korean goodwill that has come in the form of the unilateral suspension of its missile and nuclear programs and the return of the remains of US soldiers from the Korean War in the early 1950s.

A US official said the guidelines adopted by the UNSC would ensure that “only critical, life-saving humanitarian activities needed in North Korea can continue” to be delivered, noting that requests for exemptions will undergo a detailed review.

Meanwhile, Dutch Deputy UN Ambassador Lise Gregoire-van Haaren, whose country chairs the sanctions committee, said on Monday that the proposed guidelines will hopefully “provide clarity on delivering humanitarian aid to the North Korean people without violating sanctions.”

“Our ultimate goal is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the sanctions are very important to that end,” she added.

The UNSC has imposed several rounds of tough measures against North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs.

The UN imposed its toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang test-fired new ballistic missiles in July last year and then conducted its most powerful nuclear test in September 2017.

The US and the European Union (EU) have also imposed wide-ranging, unilateral bans against Pyongyang.

The newly-approved measures come as the UN is facing a major funding deficit for its aid operations in North Korea. Only four nations — Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, and France — have made donations, providing a total of $12 million out of the $111-million humanitarian appeal for the Asian country.

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