North Korea holds Red Cross meeting amid COVID-19 vaccine delay

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June 10 (UPI) — North Korea held a meeting of its Red Cross, state media said in a report that did not mention the country’s response to COVID-19 or vaccines.

Korean Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Thursday North Korea’s Red Cross held a virtual conference Tuesday and Wednesday to review the years 2017 to 2020. A strategy to meet goals of a 10-year plan for 2021 to 2030 was also discussed, state media said.

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“To successfully achieve the strategic goals, Red Cross officers and volunteers must stand as one,” the Rodong said. “They must prevent tragedy and relieve suffering, and promote the people’s health and well-being.”

State media said officials representing the central government and regions outside Pyongyang attended the event. North Korea’s “youth Red Cross” activities were highlighted as important projects for the regime.

South Korea could be monitoring North Korea amid the pandemic.

A South Korean unification ministry official declined to comment on whether the North Korean Red Cross meeting was a step toward securing COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is difficult to judge,” the official said according to South Korean news service News 1.

The unification ministry also said the timing of a vaccine delivery to North Korea has not been determined, Hankook Ilbo reported.

North Korea has held meetings of its Red Cross every four years since 2004. Representatives of the International Red Cross previously attended the meetings, News 1 reported.

South Korean analysts told Hankook Ilbo Thursday North Korea’s 10-year strategy could represent a significant step. Hong Min, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said that North Korea might have established a “road map” for working with the international community to respond to long-term challenges, including climate change.

Pyongyang has reported zero cases of the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic while refusing the World Health Organization to gain access to its population.