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UN seeking $98m for N. Korea aid

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is urgently appealing for $98 million to meet critical humanitarian needs in North Korea for the rest of 2013.

The United Nations said it has received only $52 million of the $150 million it sought to support the provision of food and agricultural materials, health and nutrition programs, and water and sanitation improvements.

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‘‘Without sustained humanitarian support, the gains made the past 10 years in improving food security and the overall health and nutrition of the most vulnerable . . . could be quickly reversed,’’ Ghulam Isaczai, the UN resident coordinator in North Korea, said in a statement Thursday.

Isaczai said while the overall humanitarian situation has improved slightly over the last 12 months, around 2.4 million very vulnerable people need regular food assistance, and external assistance is vital.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on prospective donors to help out. The UN chief ‘‘stresses that humanitarian assistance should not be linked to political or security considerations,’’ his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

South Korea approved $6 million in government aid for vaccines, medical care, and food for North Korean children this month, the first such humanitarian aid for Pyongyang since South Korea’s president took office in February.

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