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S.Korea to launch team to support N.Korean defectors

 
Seoul, Jan 6 (IANS) The South Korean government is preparing to launch a new team to step up support for North Korean defectors suffering from economic and psychological difficulties after resettlement here, officials said on Thursday.

The team, which will comprise officials from different government agencies, including the Unification Ministry and the police, is expected to be set up by next month to provide defectors with tailored support in fields ranging from education and employment to living and psychological counselling, reports Yonhap news Agency.

According to a biannual survey conducted by the Unification Ministry last year, 1,582 defectors were found to be in need of help in addition to the general welfare package provided to all defectors upon their resettlement here.

Of the total, nearly half of them, or 47 per cent, said they had psychological difficulties.

"The types of challenges facing North Korean defectors are diversifying," a Ministry official said.

Among some 33,800 North Korean defectors living in South Korea, wage workers were estimated to be earning an average 2.28 million won ($1,900) a month last year.

The living conditions of North Korean defectors came to the spotlight after a defector who fled the North last year allegedly crossed the heavily-fortified inter-Korean border again last week to return home.

The man, reportedly in his 30s, is known to have suffered economic difficulties while living in the South.

--IANS
ksk/