Stifled EU funding threatens North Korean aid

Featured Korea World - May 27th, 2013
thumb

Several agencies say they could be forced to end humanitarian operations in North Korea after EU aid funding was cut off due to Chinese financial sanctions.

Six global non-governmental organizations working in North Korea were left scrambling for money to fund food aid and programs for children’s issues after the Bank of China closed the accounts of the North’s Foreign Trade Bank, which served as the conduit for EU agencies.

German aid group Welthhungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid) said they recently failed to send an operation fund of 300,000 euros to its office in the North.

“This could eventually reduce our ability to carry out projects or even force a complete close down,” Mathias Mogge, director of programs for Welthhungerhilfe, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If all the agencies had to pull out, it would affect millions of people,” Mogge said.

The EU has yet to impose UN sanctions against the North, but some European banks have voluntarily stopped remittances to the North, Reuters reports. EU diplomats expressed concern on the potential impact once it fully signs up to UN sanctions.

“We are concerned regarding possible unintended effects of certain sanctions such as the designation of the FTB, in particular with regard to humanitarian assistance, and we are looking into possible means to overcome the unintended effects,” said spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.