South Korea will issue a call this week at the World Economic Forum for COVID-19 vaccines and other medical help for North Korea, even if that means exemptions from U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme, a senior official said on Tuesday (May 24).
“Sending vaccines is a priority as the vaccination rate is believed to be near zero in the North,” Na Kyung-won, a special envoy of the South Korean president, told Reuters shortly before leaving for the forum in Davos, where she will lead South Korea’s delegation.
Na said she would discuss help for North Korea with Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance that operates a vaccine-sharing programme, as well as other political and economic leaders.
Na said she aimed to build support for temporary U.N. sanctions exemptions to allow the shipment of fuel and generators to North Korean to facilitate vaccine storage.
Last Saturday, South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, and his visiting U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, reaffirmed their willingness to help North Korea with vaccines, but Yoon and Biden said neither country had received a response from North Korea to offers of help.