North Korea sent a letter to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, criticizing its plan to stop supplying humanitarian aid to the country due to its "unique operating environment," state-run media reported Tuesday,
"The Global Fund has notified the closing of the grants unilaterally, without any consideration of aftereffects of the closure which constitutes nothing but an extremely abnormal and inhumane measure," a vice health minister was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency as saying in the letter.
KCNA said the letter was sent Saturday to an official of the Geneva-based international financing institution that supports developing countries by providing vaccines and drugs for infectious diseases, focusing in North Korea's case on tuberculosis and malaria.
The institution -- the world's largest financier of programs fighting those two diseases plus AIDS -- suddenly informed North Korea in February that it would end its aid program at the end of June, according to the letter.
On its website, the fund said it was "closing grants" to North Korea, citing the country's "unique operating environment."
It said its robust monitoring and supervising arrangements, bolstered by "additional safeguards," failed to yield the "required level of assurance and risk management around the deployment of resources and the effectiveness of the grants."
North Korea's vice health minister Kim Hyong Hun linked the fund's decision to U.S. moves, noting that it came as the United States has pledged to put "maximum pressure" on his country.
Kim also warned that the closure of the aid would increase the number of tuberculosis patients and allow infection to spread.
"I strongly urge that the Global Fund should consider carefully about the humanitarian impact that could be incurred from the closure of grants," he said in the letter.
The international community has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea as it has developed ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, but provisions of humanitarian aid to the country have been allowed.