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Don't put ties on North aid, says Caritas

Placing extra demands on humanitarian supplies will backfire, say experts

Don't put ties on North aid, says Caritas
Michel Roy (center), secretary general of Caritas International, releasing a statement about aid projects for the North reporter, Seoul

December 6, 2011

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Caritas International called yesterday for aid to continue to be sent to North Korea without conditions imposed on distribution and monitoring systems.

Meeting in Seoul, Caritas organizations from Germany, Japan, the United States and South Korea met at the Korean bishops’ conference building in Seoul to discuss the future of projects.

A statement issued after the meeting said the group should foster peace on the Korean Peninsula and continue humanitarian assistance to North Korea “without conditions.”

"It could produce a negative effect on unconditional aid projects if South Korea keeps demanding too much transparency in distribution systems such as monitoring food rations. We need to understand North Korea and wait patiently,” said Maryknoll Father Gerard Hammond, general manager of the North Korea program of Caritas Korea International, the Korean bishops’ first official foreign relief agency .

He emphasized the need for continuous contact with the north.

South Korea banned all but humanitarian contact with the north after the sinking of a naval vessel in an attack by North Korea in May 2010. Seoul also wants stricter monitoring of aid, worrying that it could be misused to support the North Korean army.

Father Simeon Lee Jong-keon, executive director of Caritas Korea International, said: “We sent 400 tons of flour and 130 million won (about US$120,000) worth of medicines to North Korea this year.”

Fr Lee stressed that with the help of other Caritas member organizations, Caritas Corea could send aid to North Korea indirectly via other countries, regardless of any South Korean government ban.

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