UN Committee (Yonhap)
A UN Security Council panel has approved a proposal to extend the exemption period for sanctions on humanitarian assistance to North Korea and streamline procedures to allow easier delivery of aid to the impoverished country, its website showed Tuesday.
The North Korea sanctions committee on Monday (US time) adopted a revision to its "Implementation Assistance Notice No. 7" with regard to sanctions on Pyongyang, extending the exemption period from the current six months to nine months.
The "Implementation Assistance Notice No. 7," issued in August 2018, provides the guidelines for obtaining exemptions to deliver humanitarian aid to North Korea, under which aid groups have received an exemption of six months when approved.
Under the revised resolution, exemptions will be granted for a period of nine months to aid groups that provide "a well-founded justification, such as transportation delays related to a pandemic," the UN panel said.
Aid organizations will also be allowed to deliver their items in three shipments during the exempted period, allowing urgent items to be shipped first. Currently, organizations are required to deliver their assistance in one shipment.
The UN committee also said it will streamline humanitarian assistance specifically related to tackling global pandemics, including COVID-19.
The panel will expedite the review process for extension requests, updated exemption requests, and urgent aid requests, including those aimed at responding to COVID-19 or natural disasters.
Currently, four local aid projects have applied for an extension to sanctions exemptions, and five more projects are expected to seek the extension, a unification ministry official told reporters Tuesday.
"It is meaningful that the challenges that the organizations faced during their relief activities have been resolved to an extent, and that it was carried out through a process of communication and cooperation," the official said.
The revision to the assistance notice, proposed by the US, appears to have been accepted by all 15 member countries in the council.
North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006.
Under the Security Council Resolution 2397, which was adopted in 2017 in response to the North's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November that year, humanitarian aid groups are required to receive a sanctions exemptions to send assistance to North Korea. (Yonhap)