United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock arrived in Pyongyang on Monday and met with Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's nominal head of state and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, earlier in the day, according to the North's state media.
Mark Lowcock, the United Nations aid chief, returned to Beijing from Pyongyang on Thursday, after looking into what is believed to be a precarious food situation in North Korea due in part to natural disasters.
Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock told a news conference in Pyongyang on Wednesday that much progress has been made in the last 20 years but "significant humanitarian challenges" remain. "Have no clean water", he said in a video posted on Twitter. "Almost half the children in rural areas as well don't have access to clean water".More news: Air China jet plunged 25,000ft because pilot was vaping in cockpit
The North has a fragile economy and has long struggled to feed its people, and is under multiple layers of UN Security Council sanctions over a series of nuclear and missile tests staged in violation of UN resolutions.
Lowcock and his party also met the North Korean Minister of Public Health, Jang Jun-sang, at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, reports Efe news.
And while access for humanitarian workers was improving, he noted that funding was falling short. One hospital he visited this week had only enough drugs for 40 of its 140 tuberculosis patients, creating dilemmas for doctors who have to figure out what to do, he said.More news: U.K. makes concrete E.U. trade-relations proposals anticipating Brexit
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.
Among children under five, 20 percent have experienced stunted growth. and almost half of children in rural areas don't have access to safe drinking water.
"They are keen to work with humanitarian agencies and are open to additional humanitarian assistance, and are also keen to deal with humanitarian issues separately from political dynamics", Lowcock said.More news: Jabari Parker, Chicago Bulls are progressing on a deal