UN official says N. Korea needs food, medicine, clean water


In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, photo by the North Korean government, Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, third from left, listens to North Korean Health Minister Jang Jun Sang, third from left, during a meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. The senior U.N. official visiting North Korea is highlighting malnutrition, drinking water and a shortage of medicines as problems facing the country. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

TOKYO — A senior U.N. official visiting North Korea is highlighting malnutrition, drinking water and a shortage of medicines as problems facing the country.

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. The U.N. released a transcript of his remarks.

Lowcock said about 20 percent of children are stunted because of malnutrition, and about half the children in rural areas are drinking contaminated water. He said a shortage of drugs and medical supplies and equipment is making it very difficult to treat people.

The U.N. is trying to raise $111 million for North Korea. Lowrock said only 10 percent has been raised so far, from Sweden, Switzerland and Canada.  /muf

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