Churches Campaign to Restore Int'l Food Aid to North Korea

As international sanctions worsen the food crisis in North Korea, many of its Christian neighbors in the south are calling for unconditional humanitarian assistance especially to the weak and vulnerable in the isolated Communist regime.

The National Council of Churches in Korea, which groups together Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches among others, has launched an initiative to gather urgent support for people in North Korea and to mobilize its members churches.

The NCCK is calling on churches in Korea to join in the campaign and the government to reexamine its policy toward the north and resume its support to the regime without any precondition.

A Week of National Reconciliation has been scheduled this month in which some churches are expected to hold a special joint worship service for the purpose of praying for the people in North Korea.

The general secretary of the church body is expected to explain the impending critical situation and call on the active participation of not just its member churches and organizations, but all Korean churches.

"We believe it will be an important support of churches of South Korea to children in North Korea, at the same time an opportunity to urge our government, overseas churches and organizations to resume their humanitarian food assistance to people in North Korea including children without any changing political condition," the NCCK stated.

The NCCK is encouraging Christians to contribute food items including flour packs weighing 20 kg and 8,000 powdered milk cans.

Because of its mountainous terrain, North Korea needs to import or receive one million tons of food. Due to the recent spate of political conflicts, all humanitarian assistance from the south has been ceased while 330,000 tons of expected assistance from the U.S. was stopped for nuclear-related inspection reasons. Additionally, international bodies including the World Food Program have been decreasing their food assistance while the worldwide increase in the cost of food production is making it more difficult for the regime to produce its own food.

This, coupled with an imminent period of farm hardship, will affect many people, especially pregnant women, the elderly and children – many of whom are already malnourished and suffer from deficiency diseases.

If the North Korean food problem continues unresolved, a vicious cycle will be put in place in which future generations will suffer from a degradation of physical growth and mental and learning capability, making it difficult for them to serve as the leaders of a new era in which the Koreas are once again united, the NCCK stated.