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Seoul seeks to support swine fever control in NK via NGOs

The South Korean government plans to help control the African swine fever outbreak in North Korea by providing support through international nongovernmental organizations.

The Unification Ministry is taking steps to donate money from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to international NGOs seeking to control and prevent the disease in North Korea, government sources said Friday.

The Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council under the ministry is expected to deliberate and vote on the donation as early as next week, after a committee on the management of the inter-Korean cooperation fund completes its deliberations.


(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Once the council votes on the donation, the funds can be sent to the NGOs for diagnosis and control of the highly contagious disease in North Korea.

Dozens of wild boars in South Korea have been infected with the virus, mostly near the inter-Korean border, since the first confirmed case in September.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said during a parliamentary audit in October that the ministry plans to cooperate with NGOs interested in ASF control in North Korea if possible.

In late May, North Korea reported an outbreak of African swine fever at a farm in Jagang Province to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The country has remained silent on additional outbreaks since, and did not respond to South Korea’s repeated offers to work together to prevent the spread of the virus.

Considering the North’s poor disease control capabilities, the country is likely to have had difficulties in keeping the virus from spreading until recently.

The South’s National Intelligence Service said in a meeting of the parliamentary intelligence committee in September that there were signs the disease had spread across North Korea.

The Unification Ministry is cautious, however, given the strained state of inter-Korean relations.

“(The donation to NGOs) has not been finalized yet,” a ministry official said, declining to specify the amount of the donation.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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