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South Korea plans to increase aid to North Korea

South Korea plans to increase food and medical aid to North Korea through international agencies to support the North Korean people who are facing severe food shortages, the unification ministry said Tuesday.

In a hearing at the National Assembly, the ministry said it needed to consult with global agencies such as the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization on giving aid to help the North Korean people. It cited a joint report by the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that showed more than 10 million North Koreans were in urgent need of food. 

"The government plans to decide when and how much additional aid to provide to the North based on the outcome of sending an initial 50,000 tons of rice," Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said during a meeting of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, Tuesday. The joint report estimated the North will need 1.36 million tons of grain this year to cover its food deficit.

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