With DPRK embassies the world over requesting food aid from NGOs and governmental agencies, we were curious as to whether there might be a Canadian response. In response to a letter sent to Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation by CanKor friend Jim Vavra of Calgary, CIDA’s Regional Director General, Asia Directorate, Syed Sajjadur Rahman wrote the following:
On behalf of the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, I am responding to your recent messages in which you inquire about aid provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to North Korea.
CIDA does not provide, and has no plans to provide, bilateral development assistance to North Korea. In response to recent acts of aggression by the Government of North Korea, the Prime Minister has put in place a controlled engagement policy, terminating all official bilateral contacts between the government of Canada and the North Korean regime, with the exception of those necessary to address regional security concerns, human rights and the humanitarian situation in North Korea. The only CIDA assistance to North Korea is therefore humanitarian assistance, in response to international appeals, which is delivered through trusted international partners such as the World Food Programme.
Canada’s disbursements of international assistance to all recipient countries are reported in the annual Statistical Report on International Assistance, available on the CIDA public website at www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/home.
In order to find out if humanitarian assistance in the form of food aid might still be in the cards, CanKor wrote to Food Aid Unit manager Julie Shouldice, who handles all of Canada’s pledges to the World Food Programme. The reply we received was from Charleen Bortot, on behalf of CIDA’s Media Relations department:
Between 2007 and 2009, Canada provided $7.6 million in response to the World Food Programme appeal for emergency food aid for the people of North Korea. The World Food Programme appeal followed flooding in August 2007 and successive poor harvests, compounded by increasing prices for staple foods, which together contributed to a food gap in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Canada has not made any further commitments to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance beyond those made between 2007 and 2009 through the World Food Programme.
Without support from CIDA, it is unlikely that Canada’s NGO community can contribute substantially to food aid efforts. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank, an aid agency sponsored by 13 Canadian churches, ended food aid deliveries in 2005, when the DPRK announced it no longer needed food aid and closed the Food Aid Liaison Unit, an office that programmed and monitored aid from non-resident NGOs. Without a counterpart in North Korea with sufficient capacities and a new agreement on ways and means to deliver commodities whose distribution is appropriately monitored, CFGB does not at present envisage large-scale food aid. However, CFGB assures CanKor that they are open to exploring avenues to do so if there is a clear sense that they can fill a niche that isn’t being filled by existing channels.
A delegation of the (North) Korea-Canada Cooperation Agency (KCCA) is on its way to Canada and will be speaking to various NGOs during the next week. CanKor will update this information as it becomes available.
- Aid Agencies Complete Needs Assessment in North Korea (cankor.ca)
- NCCK calls for humanitatian aid to North Korea (cankor.ca)
- U.S. says will talk with, aid North Korea on right terms (reuters.com)
- US groups report alarming malnutrition in NKorea (Korea Herald)
- U.S. aid groups urge food for North Koreans after survey (reuters.com)
- Warning on N Korea food shortages (bbc.co.uk)