Humanitarian Assistance to North Korea Should Continue for the People in Dire Need in North Korea, the first victims of the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula
South Korean NGOs’ appeal to President-elect Rho Moo-hyun and the international community
The US Bush administration is resorting to a hard-line policy towards North Korea as part of its war on terrorism, naming the North Korea as a member of ‘an axis of evil’. The tension is growing quickly on the Korean Peninsula, due to a series of incidents following North Korea’s admission that it has a nuclear-weapons program: the U.S. navy’s seizure of a freighter delivering North Korean Scud missiles on the Arabian Sea; Pyongyang’s announcement of its decision to reactivate a nuclear power plant; and Washington’s official adoption of pre-emptive attack on North Korea. Growing speculations on the security crisis on the Korean peninsula is becoming the reality despite the hopeful efforts for reconciliation since the inter-Korean dialogue in year 2000.
A recent report from the World Food Program (WFP) has warned the international community that the North Korean people will face a second round of dire famine (WFP Emergency Report No.40 & 49), like the famine in 1995 to 1998 that cost over 3.5 million lives. Out of a total 6.4 million North Korean residents that receive WFP food assistance, over 60 % – more than 4 million – are children. However, the number beneficiaries has been reduced from 6.4 million to 3 million since September 2002. According to WFP officials, the scope of the program will have to be reduced even further from the current 3 million to 1.5 million if there is no new commitment. If children who are not covered by the WFP’s assistance are included in the potential pool of victims, the number of victims will increase: up to 4 or 5 million North Korean people will suffer in a new large-scale famine.
Hence, the first and the foremost victim of the security crisis on the peninsula are the children and the elderly – the most vulnerable group of people in North Korea. What aggravates such a concern is that North Korea’s major food providers, such as South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, are showing passive attitudes towards food and other humanitarian assistance. Due to the development of the nuclear weapons program and the weapons of mass destruction in North Korea, they are moving even further to use food assistance to resolve the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang. In fact, the Bush administration has made it clear through U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that it will link the food assistance to the North to political issues, including the nuclear development program. The following statement from Washington carried in the December 5th edition of the Washington Post substantiates the U.S. government’s position that the government of North Korea is not feeding its children while it spends money on a nuclear weapons program.
It is nothing, but a void outcry of peace for the protection of the ordinary people’s lives when the North Korean government would sustain the regime, ignoring its hungry people and the international community while the US government threatens the North Korean regime using food as weapon. In the end, it is only the most vulnerable group of people like the children and the elderly who will suffer the most.
The South Korean NGO Community would like to strongly appeal that the humanitarian assistance for the people in dire need should be dealt separately with the issues of the nuclear weapons program and the weapons for mass destruction.
The international community should, therefore, act in solidarity to work for peace on the Korean peninsula in the best interest of the innocent victims, the North Korean people, so that more despair and tragedy will not be the result for the people of North Korea. Thus, the next Roh administration should immediately provide a massive amount of humanitarian assistance, thereby leading the international community as an example.
The North Korean government should settle the suspicion of the nuclear weapons program and be part of making a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
The government of the US should, therefore, hold the discussion with the government of North Korea for the peaceful resolution of the program of nuclear weapons and the weapons for mass destruction.
The People of South and North Korea want a peaceful Korean Peninsula.
The International community and the government of the US should reconsider providing fossil fuel to North Korea and must sustain a massive amount of humanitarian assistance.
Citizen’s Coalition for Economic Justice Korea Reunification Society, International Corn Foundation, Good Neighbors, Oke-dongmu Children: South-North Korean Children Friends Forever, Green Korea United, Council for National Reconciliation, Self-reliance, and Reunification of Korea, MINBYUN – -Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Medical Aid for Children of North Korea, Korea Women’s Associations United, Dept. of Welfare and Philanthropic Affairs in Won-Buddhism H.Q, Eugene Bell Foundation, Good Friends: Centre for Peace, Human rights and Refugees, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, National Episcopal Committee for The Reconciliation of the Korean People, Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea, Women Making Peace, Korea Welfare Foundation, Buddhist Academy for Ecological Awakening, JTS (Join Together Society)Korea, Korean Welfare Foundation, Korean Federation for the Environment Movement, Citizen’s Movement for Environmental Justice
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