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S. Korea steps up aid to famine-stricken East Africa

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is revving up efforts to help famine-stricken nations in East Africa by increasing humanitarian aid and seeking public-private partnerships, Seoul's foreign ministry said Sunday.

About 13 million people in the Horn of Africa have been affected by the worst drought in decades, according to the United Nations. Under a plan announced by South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in New York last month, South Korea will provide US$50 million in famine relief to the region by 2013. The country had earlier pledged $5 million in aid for Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti.

Starting this month, the government will also transport U.N. relief supplies to the area jointly with national flag carrier Korean Air, which will deliver a total of 400 tons of food from Brussels of Belgium to Mombasa of Kenya on four weekly chartered flights.

The government will share the cost of transportation with Korean Air, paying $600,000 each, the ministry said.

It is the first time a domestic carrier is taking part in deliveries of U.N. relief supplies, it added.

"Until now, our government has mainly focused on providing humanitarian relief to East Africa, but from now on, we plan to help prevent the recurrence of such famines by contributing to building the necessary infrastructure," a ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.

The government is currently in talks with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), a state-run foreign aid agency, to help people in East Africa build their own agricultural infrastructure and technological know-how.



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