In August 1995, for the first time in its history, North Korea launched a call for international aid following
the destruction of its harvests by flooding. Following the breakdown of the Soviet Union, its main source of support, the planned economy of this closed off country gradually collapsed. The population, completely dependent on the regime’s arbitrary resource management, experienced shortages of energy, food and medicines.
The countries involved in the Korean crisis (regional powers and the USA) were anxious to avoid a sudden collapse of North Korea, which would impact on the entire region. They were encouraging peace negotiations between the two Koreas and a freezing and dismantling process of North Korea’s nuclear arms. The United-Nations responded to this appeal with the delivery of millions of tons of aid, thereby entering into years of an on-going bargaining process linking the progress of negotiations to the allocation of aid. From October to December 1995, an international MSF team, composed of volunteers from the Belgian, French and Dutch sections, set up a programme in North Korea providing epidemiological monitoring of diarrhoea and distributing medicines and medical material.
The 'MSF in North Korea 1995-1998' case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas that led Médecins Sans Frontières to speak out publicly while its teams were trying to bring assistance to the North Korean population on its territory between 1995 and 1998 and to the North Korean refugees in Asia in the following years.
To cite this content :
Laurence Binet, MSF and North Korea 1995-1998, 1 October 2014, URL : https://msf-crash.org/en/publications/humanitarian-actors-and-practices/msf-and-north-korea-1995-1998
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