Discussions On Meeting Humanitarian Needs Must Remain Separate From Those Of Denuclearization In U.S., North Korea Negotiations

The Hill: With second North Korea summit, let’s not overlook the case for kindness
Matthew Ellingson, director of relief and humanitarian affairs at Food for the Hungry

“While increased attention to denuclearizing North Korea rightly must be pursued, and applauded, as we approach a second meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un, withholding or withdrawing much-needed humanitarian assistance cannot become a pawn in political negotiations. … Last June’s historic agreement between Trump and Kim gave me a glimmer of hope. Here was a once-in-a-70-year opportunity to diffuse this longstanding conflict; optimism was on the rise in many circles. Yet, since June, the U.S. government’s international sanctions to thwart nuclear and ballistic missile development also have impacted vital shipments of humanitarian equipment to the DPRK. As a result, transfers of medical instruments, agricultural tools, and solar panels that generate energy for things such as clean drinking water have been delayed or stopped. In a promising recent development, the State Department indicated it once again will allow Americans to travel to North Korea to conduct humanitarian work, but many more hurdles remain. International nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are leaving because of the nearly impossible task of effectively delivering humanitarian aid. … As we approach the Hanoi summit, our country … must separate critical humanitarian needs in the DPRK from the goal of denuclearization. The North Korean people are not the enemy, and our country must be careful not to withhold kindness and exacerbate their struggle” (2/26).