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Charity vaccinates 430,000 N.K. children against deadly disease

The German branch of the international Catholic relief group Caritas vaccinated 430,000 North Korean children against Japanese encephalitis earlier this month, the group said Thursday.

The North Korean children vaccinated in the first round of anti-Japanese encephalitis vaccination programs on July 2 are those living in South Hwanghae Province, just north of the inter-Korean border, an official at Caritas Germany told Yonhap News Agency.

The group plans to vaccinate a total of 3.2 million North Korean children in the southern part of the country through four rounds of their vaccination programs by the end of this year, the official said.

The vaccination assistance programs will mostly benefit children living in the lower part of the North because those living in the upper part are relatively safe from the disease caused by the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus, the official said.

Funds needed for the vaccination were raised through donations from Germany and other countries. Part of the funds was also drawn from South Korea’s contribution given to the International Vaccine Institute, a non-profit international organization committed to preventing children in developing countries from contracting infectious diseases.

The South Korean Unification Minister, which handles inter-Korean affairs, decided late last year to donate 2.47 billion won ($2.2 million) to help finance vaccination for North Korean children. (Yonhap News)