NGOs Support Additional Emergency Food Shipments to North Korea
American NGOs assisting the people of North Korea issued the following statement September 25 supporting the administration's decision to provide an additional 300,000 metric tons of food aid. The signatory agencies are members of the NGO Working Group on North Korea organized and supported by InterAction.
American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of North Korea since 1995. While a tremendous effort by the international community has saved millions of lives threatened by famine and disease, hundreds of thousands of North Korean men, women and children have succumbed. Unfortunately, fundamental economic weaknesses and natural disasters pose continuing threats to the lives of North Koreans. The need for external assistance is undiminished. Locally grown food will again be consumed well before next year's harvest. The undersigned American NGOs therefore call on the Administration and the Congress to remain generous in providing food and medical assistance. They strongly support the Administration's decision to send an additional 300,000 metric tons of American grain to North Korea.
Although working conditions in North Korea remain difficult, American NGOs and the UN agencies with which they collaborate enjoy increasingly better access to the groups they are assisting. The World Food Program has been able to open four satellite offices throughout the country, and almost all of North Korea now can be visited by food monitors. American NGOs have witnessed improvements in the health of those reached by feeding programs, particularly young children. Unfortunately, there have not been similar improvements in the nutritional status of those not yet reached by these programs, including preadolescent and adolescent children.
There have been some North Korean economic policy changes which can result in increased local food production. North Korean authorities have allowed some free market activities, agreement has been reached on a smallholder credit scheme financed by a UN agency, and NGOs have introduced new seed varieties and double cropping. Much more must be done to enhance local food production capacity . The undersigned hope that dialogue between North Korean and United States authorities will make possible an early easing of American economic sanctions, facilitating NGO participation in development as well as relief activities.
Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula is primarily an issue within the competence of the Korean people. American NGOs favor the peaceful solution of outstanding differences, were pleased to hear during President Kim's visit to Washington of his commitment to dialogue, and hope that their presence and activities will encourage this process.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
American Friends Service Committee
Church World Service
Holt International Children's Services
Institute for Strategic Reconciliation
Korean-American Sharing Movement
Mennonite Central Committee
Mercy Corps International
For further information contact Jim Bishop, Director of Humanitarian Affairs of InterAction at 202.667.8227 or JBishop@interaction.org, or Young Chun, Executive Diretor of The Institute for Strategic Reconciliation, Inc. (ISR) at 301.570.3948 or ISR_usa@Yahoo.com.