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    In this Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 photo, civilians and military personnel participate in a mass rally in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to mark their country’s sixth underground nuclear test

    ICRC Ready to Scale Up Humanitarian Program in North Korea - President

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    The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has commented in an interview with Sputnik the humanitarian situation in such countries as North Korea, Syria and Myanmar.

    MUNICH (Sputnik) – The ICRC would be ready to increase its North Korea humanitarian program but the international community lacks recognition that there is a humanitarian situation to respond to, Maurer said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Friday.

    “We have consistently raised the attention on the humanitarian situation In North Korea. We have a relatively small scale program in North Korea. ICRC would be ready  to increase this program. I think at the present moment it is also a lack of recognition by the North Korean government and by the international community at large that there is a humanitarian situation to respond to,” he noted.

    According to Maurer,  North Korea’s health, water sanitation, as well as other social and economic sectors are weak.

    “We certainly need to prepare in order to be able to scale but for the time being it is very frankly not possible to significantly increase our operations,” he said.

    Russia's Role in Syria

    Maurer said that the ICRC appreciates the support Russia has provided to it for its operation in Syria in recent years and calls on all actors to do their best to open up humanitarian spaces.

    According to the official, recent weeks have been complicated by the current military and strategic situation in Eastern Ghouta and on the Turkish-Syrian border in particular.

    “We need better cooperation by Turkey, by Iran, by Western powers, by the Syrian Government, by the armed opposition, by everybody because otherwise we won’t be able really to deliver adequately to the needs of people,” he added.

    Humanitarian Aid Deliveries to Myanmar

    The ICRC hopes that the ongoing MSC will help increase humanitarian aid deliveries to Myanmar, which is currently suffering from mass displacement of its Rohingya population following violent conflicts, Maurer stressed.

    "We are among a few actors being able to respond to this displaced populations which are still in Myanmar… The situation is similar, as I have described, for other conflicts in the world. The speed and scale of what we are doing is not adequate to the problems which we are encountering and we hope that, including hopefully in conversation here in Munich, we are able to further accelerate the delivery of humanitarian assistance," Maurer said on the sidelines of the 54th MSC.

    The president noted that the ICRC maintained good relations with the local authorities in order to scale up the deliveries.

    "Return of those who have become refugees to Myanmar is still a big wish at the present moment and we think that the situation is not sufficiently stable to have meaningful return," Maurer stressed.

    Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh after Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country, launched an offensive that was triggered by an August attack on police stations committed by a militant Islamist group. The offensive has been condemned by the United States and other Western nations as "ethnic cleansing."

    On January 16, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement laying out a two-year-timetable for the Rohingya people's return to Myanmar.


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    humanitarian situation, humanitarian aid, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Syria, Russia, Myanmar
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