Humanitarian aid for the most pressing needs and vulnerable groups in DPRK; especially children

Situation Report
Originally published
Location of operation: Democratic People's Republic of KOREA -
Amount of decision: 9,100,000 euro
Decision reference number: ECHO/PRK/BUD/2004/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population:

1.1. - Rationale:

The economy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been until recently entirely subsidized by the central government(1). With the collapse of the USSR in the nineties and a changing China, DPRK was left totally isolated on the world stage. This isolation, together with a series of natural disasters compounded to cause a major food crisis in the mid-nineties from which it is thought hundreds of thousands or even millions of people died.

During the last few years the DPRK government has started to recognize the need to initiate economic reforms and took tentative steps in this direction with a small reform package in mid- 2002. While it is too early to say what will be the result in the long term of these reforms, the physical vulnerability of the population remains very high due to the deficient structures:

- The health sector in DPRK is desperately overstretched and wholly under funded and thus unable to provide the most essential services to its population. The supply of basic drugs is totally dependent on international aid and the needs of particular vulnerable groups like handicapped and older people are very much neglected.

- As in other contexts, children are exposed to higher mortality due to insufficient nutrition, unsafe water supply and unsanitary hygiene provision as well as poor health care.

At the same time the reforms are starting to generate new groups of very vulnerable people - industrial workers whose industrial plants have lost all subsidies and are at a standstill - so new humanitarian needs arise while old ones persist.

This decision fully responds to ECHOs' strategy in 2004 with its aim to intervene in areas of greatest humanitarian needs as well as its particular focus on children.

(1) Analysis of the children and women in the Democratic People's republic of Korea; UNICEF 2003