The UN aid chief said that although North Korea has made much progress in the humanitarian area, it still faces a lot of challenges, so the UN plans to increase its humanitarian aid to the regime.
During his four-day visit from Monday, the United Nations undersecretary general of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator met with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and public health minister Jang Jun Sang.
The UN delegation began a four-day visit to North Korea on Monday, during which it also visited the Pyongyang Children's Foodstuff Factory, the Tower of the Juche Idea and the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability, the KCNA report said.
He met Kim Yong Nam, the nominal head of state and president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, on Wednesday, the North's state media said.
"There are though large numbers of people who still need assistance; there is a significant problem of malnutrition with something like 20 per cent of children stunted because of malnutrition which impairs their life chances", he said.
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While visiting a hospital, he said there were 140 tuberculosis patients but only enough drugs to treat 40 of them. "Almost half the children in rural areas as well don't have access to clean water".
About 10.6 million people among the country's 25 million population need humanitarian assistance, the United Nations said, also noting "disparities" in access to basic health services between rural and urban areas.
He said that North Korean authorities 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".
Although humanitarian supplies or operations are exempt under U.N. Security Council resolutions, U.N. officials have warned that worldwide sanctions over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are exacerbating humanitarian problems by slowing aid deliveries.
Mortality rates for under-fives are 20 percent higher in the countryside than in towns, it said, adding a shortage of funding had forced it to stop nutrition support to kindergartens since November 2017.