Swiss charity calls for continued aid for North Korea

The Swiss Roman Catholic charity Caritas said Tuesday that international aid for North Korea must continue, even though a concerted international aid effort had succeeded in easing famine in the communist country.

This content was published on August 17, 1999 - 14:45

The Swiss Roman Catholic charity Caritas said Tuesday that international aid for North Korea must continue, even though a concerted international aid effort had succeeded in easing famine in the communist country.

Jürg Krummenacher, the head of Caritas, told a news conference in Lucerne after a fact-finding mission in North Korea, that hospitals were short of medicine and food.

Overall, the food situation had improved in those parts of North Korea where Caritas and other aid organisations had been allowed to visit, Krumenacher said.

However, he added that the country would probably be dependent on foreign aid for years to come.

North Korea has been largely dependent on foreign food aid since 1995, after its farming industry collapsed because of decades of mismanagement aggravated by years of bad weather.

Caritas, which coordinates its aid operations with the United Nation World Food programmes, has sent 48,000 tonnes of food aid for 700,000 people to North Korea. Caritas says most of its aid is going to children and pregnant women.

The head of the WFP on Monday also appealed for continued international food aid, even if North Korea goes ahead with a military missile launch.

“A cut in food aid would be devastating to the lives of millions of children in North Korea,” Catherine Bertini told a news conference in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Hundreds of thousands are believed to have died of starvation although North Korea has received $1 billion in international food aid.

The North Korean military is reportedly preparing to test fire a new ballistic missile, despite warnings by the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Last year, Pyongyang fired a missile which overflew Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. The incident triggered international protests and raised fears of a possible military confrontation in what is often described as the last Cold War frontier between North and South Korea.


From staff and wire reports.

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