658 people from with five religious groups urge food aid to North Korea

Posted on : 2011-04-13 13:54 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Government: “We are not currently considering providing food aid”

By Park Byong-su, Senior Staff Writer


Following a recent World Food Programme (WFP) recommendation urging the delivery of food aid to North Korea, a group of 658 religious leaders is calling on the South Korean government to resume its humanitarian food aid efforts.

The Association of Religious Workers for Peace and Reconciliation for the Korean People held a press conference at the Korea Press Center in Seoul’s Jung District on Tuesday in which its members expressed their hope “that we can help North Koreans suffering from starvation through government humanitarian aid to North Korea and achieve reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The association includes representatives from the five main religious groups in South Korea, including Galilee Church Head Pastor In Myung-jin, Venerable Beomnyun, Cheondogyo Office of Religious Affairs Head Lee Chang-beon, Munjeong-dong Catholic Church Head Priest Father Kim Hong-jin, and Won-Buddhism Kyomu Kim Jeong-deok.

The representatives also produced a petition signed by 658 figures from the five religious groups. The petition noted “it came to light in a recent World Food Programme examination of the food situation in North Korea that the country is suffering a shortfall of more than one million tons of food.”

“Estimated to include at least 6.1 million people, the class of the especially vulnerable, such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers, the disabled, and tuberculosis patients, is suffering from a particularly severe food shortage,” the petition stated.

The religious leaders noted the WFP’s recommendation of international assistance of 430 thousand tons of food to North Korea and warned that millions of people could die of starvation if the government and private aid groups fail to provide large amounts of food assistance.

Previously, after an examination of North Korea during February and March, the WFP concluded that there would be a deficit of over one million tons of food in the country, and that 434,000 tons of food aid were needed for 6.1 million at-risk members of the population.

“It is time for the South Korean government to actively and favorably consider providing food aid to North Korea,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on April 8.

The U.S. is known to be weighing the option of providing food aid to North Korea, with plans for its own investigation independent of the WFP. However, the position in Seoul is that no large-scale aid is possible apart from the purely humanitarian assistance provided recently by private groups for vulnerable members of the North Korean population.

“Our basic position is that humanitarian assistance to North Korea is something to be decided upon in consideration of the situation in inter-Korean relations and the transparency of its distribution,” said one government official.

“We are not currently considering providing food aid to North Korea,” the official added.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Most viewed articles