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A Worsening Crisis in North Korea

A Worsening Crisis in North Korea

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12 July 2011

A Worsening Crisis in North Korea

The Integral Programme Group, made up on the International Directors of Integral Members, recently held a call about the food shortages in North Korea. Two Integral Members are responding to the worsening crisis - MAP International with medicines, and Mission East have done a needs assessment and have the opportunity to respond with personnel and food. Integral Member Cedar Fund is currently supporting the work on their partners on the ground in North Korea, one of the world's most closed countries ...

Peter Drummond Smith, Programme Director at Mission East, has recently returned from North Korea. He says: "Our assessment team found that in Kangwon province there are geographical pockets of food insecurity where malnutrition is worsening. These are in areas which have significant urban populations with no land access to grow food, so have to rely largely on food provided through the North Korean government's public distribution system (PDS). Food supplied by the PDS has been reduced to less than half normal levels in May and June as the country food stocks run short. Mission East will co-ordinate with other agencies providing food assistance, as well as seek funding to provide short-term food assistance to pregnant and lactating women, pre-adolescent children and elderly people in these areas. Special attention will also be paid to feeding in nurseries and orphanages, where the nutritional status of the children is particularly poor."

Mission East has already delivered 52.5 tons of emergency aid to vulnerable people in North Korea, and continues to seek funds to increase their response. Dr Kim Hartzner, Managing Director of Mission East, who was also part of the assessment team, says: "It is estimated that approximately 1 million North Koreans died from starvation in the 1990s, and many fear that a similar humanitarian catastrophe is brewing if the international community does not intervene quickly. We've got a unique opportunity to provide humanitarian assistance to one of the world's most closed countries where people are suffering tremendously. According to the UN approximately six million people face a threatening famine, and therefore we must react immediately."    

MAP International, working through a long-term partner in North Korea, sent a container of medicines valued at over $1 m USDs in May 2011 to a Christian NGO serving in North Korea. Each container typically has enough medicines to provide 250,000 treatments. CEDAR Fund have been involved in supporting the work of their partners in North Korea for a number of years now. In 2010 one of their partners set up an 'aid station' near the Chinese-North Korean border to supply basic food and medicine. Coal is essential to warm homes during severe winters but soaring food and oil prices placed extra burden on the North Korean people. CEDAR subsidised their partner so that they could supply coals - thereby "channelling warmth and love for the people". Click here to read more about CEDAR's work in North Korea.

Integral will continue to share information about the responses of its Members in North Korea, with a view to increasing co-operation and creating more funding opportunities amongst its Membership for this increasingly serious situation.

 

This story was supplied Integral