International sanctions against North Korea could threaten humanitarian aid in the impoverished nation, top UN agencies said Monday.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) appealed for help to fund much-needed humanitarian aid for the isolated state amid tighter sanctions imposed on the regime.

“Even though the imposed sanctions clearly exclude humanitarian assistance, a negative impact on the levels of humanitarian funding has been experienced,” the agencies said in a statement, according to AFP.

The UN bodies called for $29.4 million to pay for health and food supplies. They had only received just over a quarter of the $147 million they needed for humanitarian operations in the North this year, AFP reports.

The agencies said they “are unable to respond effectively to the humanitarian needs out of which the most critical and life-saving ones urgently require $29.4 million”.

UNICEF said it was running short of cash for basic vaccines and medicines for child killers such as pneumonia and diarrhea.

The “dire funding” could make obsolete the humanitarian operations in the reclusive state, the agencies also said.

The United Nations stepped up its sanctions on North Korea after it defiantly launched a long-range missile in December and conducted its third nuclear test in February.

The North has launched a barrage of warlike rhetoric against the US and demanded recognition as a nuclear-armed nation, pushing into the bowels of the country the feeling of hunger most of its people suffer.