Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Hong Kong (Fides Service) – Caritas Hong Kong intends to continue helping North Korea and working to promote peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. The was said in a statement issued by the recent General Meeting of Caritas Internationalis in Rome which closed in 12 July. Although it has no local office in North Korea Caritas has been operating in the country since 1995, thanks to Caritas Hong Kong which makes and annual funding campaign for specific projects. To meet the need for food, health and farming assistance in North Korea, this year Caritas Hong Kong hopes to collect 2.6 million US dollars in its campaign April 2003 – March 2004.
Speaking to Fides Service, Swiss born Kathi Zellweger, head of Caritas Hong Kong international cooperation office and in charge of North Korea assistance programmes, explained her work. “We started this humanitarian assistance eight years ago and we are happy to be able to help. We have earned full approval and trust of the north Korean government and we try to be a bridge between South and North as Caritas workers meet more and more people in the north. Although the world seems to be prepared for an escalation of violence, we at Caritas are convinced that dialogue and negotiations can achieve much more than arms and we will never tire of working in this direction”. Ms Zellweger says that “at times humanitarian activity is politicised but Caritas remains impartial never taking sides and is concerned only with the wellbeing of the people. We work in partnership with local officials and with other international humanitarian organisations”
North Korea is living a period of transition from a totally state dependent social-economic system to a society in which people must be self supportive and state assistance is reduced to a minimum. Kathi Zellwger who was last in North Korea in April and will make another mission in August, tells Fides Service that “foreign aid is crucial. Caritas hopes to collect donations amounting to 2.6 million US dollars by next March to fund projects in 9 of the poorest provinces on the eastern coast of the country, where there are about 8 million people: North and South Pyongang, North and South Hwandhae, Kangwon, North and South Hamhong, Ryanggang, Chagang. The beneficiaries of the projects are the most vulnerable sectors, children, women and old people to whom Caritas provides basic food and health care, but also young people and men who are instructed in modern farming techniques”.
The Caritas plan aims for diversification of aid in sectors: food aid for more than 8,000 orphaned children in 39 North Korean institutes; health supplies to small hospitals and medical centres; farming assistance with instruction and materials to more than 2,000 farmers. Donations to Caritas may be sent through the following addresses: Caritas-Hong Kong US $ - A/C No. 616-101094-106 - Fortis Bank Asia HK , 27/F, Fortis Bank Tower 77-79 Gloucester Road - Hong Kong - Swift Code: GEBA HK KW - Remark: North KoreaCaritas-Hong Kong EURO - A/C. No. 0010009-01-8 - Deutsche Bank (Asia) - 51/F, Cheung Kong Center - 2 Queen's Road Hong Kong - Remark: North Korea

(PA) (Fides Service 16/7/2003 lines: 40 words 539 )