In the midst of the bad news on the Kaesong talks—depending of course on what you think of the whole venture—there was one interesting footnote. While announcing its final offer on Kaesong, the Ministry of Unification kept engagement alive by announcing a humanitarian aid initiative. The total package was estimated at about $7.3 million, with $6 million provided by the ROK government and funneled through UNICEF. UNICEF was one of several UN organizations issuing an urgent appeal for about $30 million back in April following severe funding shortfalls. UNICEF’s share of the appeal (about $5 million) was in support of vaccination and nutrition programs; the South Korean contribution would actually exceed that appeal.
The South Korean NGOs involved account for the remaining $1.3 million:
- The Korea Association of People Sharing Love (bread from China to child-care centers and orphanages in Sinuiju to be followed by baby formula and supplement)
- Medical Aid for Children (antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Green Tree Korea
- Okedongmu Children
- Stop Hunger (these last three will send clothing, blankets, flour, and powdered milk)
The announcement stated that humanitarian aid continue on a separate track from political negotiations, including with respect to Kaesong. Initially, the North did not respond, but it appears that the shipments are now being made.
The last—and first—such gesture came early in the Park administration when it allowed a shipment of medicines by Eugene Bell. As we outlined in an earlier post, this was a component of a wider strategy to use humanitarian aid as a gesture before the times of trouble following the nuclear test.
In other aid news, the WFP is now targeting victims of the recent floods. Two assessments suggested as many as 45,000 North Koreans lost their homes with the damage concentrated in South Pyongang (Anju county), North Pyongan (Unsan, Ryongchon, Jiongju,Pakchon, Taechon counties), North Hwandhae (Tosan,Yontan, Yonsan counties) and South Hamgyong (Yongwang county). The WFP will assure access to 400 grams of maize per day for a month, a suggestion that the PDS may not be operative in those regions.