South Korea plans to double its contributions to a UN humanitarian air service program to $5 million over the next three years, the foreign ministry said Friday, amid global efforts to help countries vulnerable to the new coronavirus overcome the pandemic.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha explained Seoul's plan to expand the contributions to David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, during phone talks on cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 scourge.
Managed by the WFP, the UN Humanitarian Air Service offers passenger and light cargo transport services to and from areas of crisis and intervention, with a view to providing equal access to all humanitarian entities.
In the 2017-2019 period, South Korea contributed $2.5 million in total to the UNHAS. It plans to offer $5 million for the 2020-2022 period.
During the talks, Kang said that although Korea's response to the pandemic has made progress, it is maintaining vigilance. She also evaluated that despite such challenges as border closures aimed at stemming the virus, the WFP has been effectively carrying out its humanitarian endeavors.
Beasley expressed his appreciation for South Korea's support for the WFP activities, calling for the international community to strengthen cooperation in responding to the global health care crisis, the ministry said.
The WFP warned that if the world fails to swiftly respond to the pandemic, some 265 million people in 36 countries could face a food crisis by the end of this year.
Separately, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young held the sixth weekly videoconference with his counterparts from six countries, including the United States, Japan and Australia, to discuss cooperation on tackling the pandemic. (Yonhap)