First Steps, an organization dedicated to bringing food aid to North Korean children, issued an emergency appeal last week. Returning from a visit into the interior, Executive Director Susan Ritchie was struck by the dire situation in many of the orphanages. “At each of the sites visited, the team found soybean supplies to last only a few days,” writes Ritchie. The organization is looking to raise enough to send 700 metric tons of soybeans for children, nursing and pregnant mothers. You can find the text of the appeal below:
First Steps Issues An Emergency Appeal
A First Steps team returned from North Korea on Tuesday, March 1 – and for the first time in a decade of working there, we find it imperative to make an emergency appeal due to acute malnutrition and worsening food shortages.
Our five-person team traveled to South Pyongan and Kangwon Provinces from Feb. 22 – March 1. We visited 21 sites including clinics, orphanages, kindergartens and daycares, as well as soymilk production facilities.
North Korean government officials told us that there have been severe food shortages following summer floods and harsh winter conditions that seriously damaged winter crops. Kangwon provincial authorities estimated that 80 – 90% of the wheat and barley planted for spring harvest, as well as potato seedlings and vegetable crops, were killed by extreme cold.
At each of the sites visited, the team found soybean supplies to last only a few days. Provincial and county officials advised that government food stocks would run out in one-to-two months, depending on the county. The orphanages that First Steps supports have already run out or will run out of beans in days and won’t be able to further access government beans due to low stocks.
The food shortages most severely impact young children, and pregnant and nursing mothers, the vulnerable groups that First Steps targets. In response to the desperate need, First Steps is seeking to raise funds to urgently send 700 metric tonnes of soybeans.
Will you consider making a special donation to help send soybeans? Soybeans currently cost $750 per metric tonne. To expedite your donation, you can donate online.
A regular First Steps newsletter with information on our recent visit will be mailed in the coming weeks. Please do not hesitate to call us at 604-732-0195 if you have any questions.
3 March 2011