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Private aid agency in S. Korea delivers medicines to N. Korea

2016/03/25 23:21

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- A private aid agency in South Korea said Friday that it has delivered medicines to treat tuberculosis to North Korea, the first humanitarian aid to the North after Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January.

The Eugene Bell Foundation said multidrug-resistant tuberculosis medications and treatment supplies arrived in North Korea, and its officials plan to visit North Korea from April 19 to May 10.

The foundation has long been a key provider of tuberculosis medications to North Korea for the past two decades, but the latest shipment of humanitarian aid came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint military drills.

North Korea has threatened to turn Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office, into a "sea of flames and ashes" in anger for what it claims is South Korea's air raid drill to destroy the office of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with fighter-bombers carrying guided air-to-surface missiles.

South Korea has confirmed its Air Force conducted a large-scale air raid drill against a simulated key North Korean facility, though it did not give details.

The Eugene Bell Foundation has said the lives of more than 1,500 North Korean tuberculosis patients are at risk, noting its 12 treatment centers have just enough medication to last through April.

The foundation said about 1,500 patients are infected with highly resistant strains of tuberculosis that are untreatable with standard tuberculosis medications.

It said if its 18-month course of treatment is interrupted, within as little as two weeks the North Korean patients will be at risk of developing extensively drug resistant tuberculosis.

"Should they return home to die, everyone who comes into contact with them will be at risk of contracting this particularly dangerous type of 'super-TB,'" the foundation said earlier this month.