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Food aid intended for N. Koreans to be offered to third countries
SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to donate baby formula originally intended for North Korea to disaster-stricken countries in Africa and elsewhere, as the North has refused to accept it, an official at the Unification Ministry said Thursday.

   The move comes a month after South Korea dropped a plan to send 5 billion won (US$4.4 million) worth of aid, including baby food, to North Korean flood victims, citing the absence of a response from the North.

   South Korea is seeking to donate 290,000 of 830,000 packs of baby food to an African country and another country hit by a natural disaster, the official said. He declined to give further details and asked not to be identified as consultations are still under way.

   The World Food Program recently said a third of North Korean children under the age of five are chronically malnourished.

   The United Nations food agency also warned that many more children are at risk of slipping into acute stages of malnutrition unless targeted assistance is sustained.

   Experts have said the North's food shortages may worsen after devastating floods washed away tens of thousands of hectares of farmland in the North earlier this year.

   The North has relied on international handouts since the late 1990s when it suffered a massive famine that was estimated to have killed 2 million people.