Aid Builds Bridges, Saves Lives in North Korea

North Korea

August 23, 2000

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    “This is another step forward in building bridges with the people of North Korea." Photo: Mercy Corps. Photo:

On Monday, August 28, a humanitarian flight will depart San Francisco for Pyongyang, North Korea carrying medicines, medical equipment, fertilizer and windmills from across the United States. The shipment, part of Mercy Corps’ ongoing effort to address the underlying causes of the critical food shortages in North Korea, is a collaborative effort involving several partner agencies and private donors. The total estimated value of the shipment is over $1.1 million.

The humanitarian supplies will be flown to North Korea on board a chartered Boeing 747 by Evergreen International Airlines of McMinnville, Oregon. Dr. Kenneth Quinones, director of Mercy Corps’ Korea programs, will accompany the shipment.

“This is another step forward in building bridges with the people of North Korea,” states Dr. Quinones. “As we saw this past week with the reunification of Korean families, there is increasing openness in North Korea. These shipments help this process.”

The shipment includes:

  • 10,000 pounds of fertilizer, donated by the Rotary Club of Beaverton, Oregon. The fertilizer will be applied to the 10,000 Oregon apple trees that Mercy Corps shipped to North Korea in March.
  • $382,000 in medicines and supplies, donated by Holt International of Eugene, Oregon.
  • Two water pumping windmills from Nautilus Institute of Berkeley, California, for irrigating the apple trees, to be installed with the support of Pax World Service.
  • $500,000 in medical equipment donated to Mercy Corps by a doctor in Utica, New York, shipped with the assistance of ADRA of Silver Spring, Maryland and the Korean-American Sharing Movement.
  • 20,000 health kits including blankets, and sewing and school supplies, donated by Church World Service of New York.

Flooding, drought, extensive deforestation and fuel shortages have led to the deterioration of North Korea’s agricultural infrastructure and four consecutive years of disastrous food shortages. As a result, 16% of North Korea’s children suffer from acute malnutrition and 62% suffer from chronic malnutrition and moderate to severe stunting. Many North Koreans are suffering from diseases associated with malnutrition, including dysentery, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Mercy Corps has played a lead role in providing humanitarian aid to North Korea since March 1996. Mercy Corps’ goal is to avert widespread food shortages while laying the foundation for the prevention of future food emergencies. The agency’s humanitarian efforts have included food and medical aid, agricultural rehabilitation, and increasing the exchange of visitors between North Korea and the United States.