An international aid organization urged donors not to cut aid to North Korea amid simmering tensions over the sinking of a South Korean ship.
South Korea has cut trade ties with the North and called on the United Nations to sanction its reclusive neighbor. North Korea responded by denying involvement in the incident and warned of a possible military action.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight, who visited Seoul for talks with relief agencies operating in the North, stressed that imposing aid sanctions on North Korea has never worked. As a matter of fact, continuing the provision of aid, she said, would “help dampen the tensions.”
“I don’t think it helps in any way to stop aid… I would still say humanitarian aid to the people of North Korea must continue at all costs,” she noted.
The Rome-based Catholic aid organization, which has been operating in North Korea since 1995, expressed concern over rising friction between the two Koreas and called for a peaceful dialogue, the Straits Times reports.
Caritas Internationalis has spent USD33.8 million on aid to North Korea in the past 15 years. In 2010, it spearheaded hepatitis B vaccinations for 500,000 children in Pyongyang.