5 December 2011, Seoul
Caritas Internationalis member organizations gathered today in Seoul, South Korea, to promote a better understanding of the current situation in North Korea and to discuss the directions and strategies for its future program there. On behalf of the participants of the 2011 Seoul Meeting, we express concern about the dire situation that many North Korean people are facing and the tense atmosphere between North and South Korea and make the following statement:
1. Foster peace on the Korean Peninsula
The increasingly tense relationship over the years between North and South Korea stems from mutual distrust and nationalism, and it has led to an unproductive arms race on the Korean Peninsula. This situation causes deeper wounds between the people and increases distrust and anxiety about future armed provocations. Caritas calls on all to resolve the tensions between the two Koreas in the spirit of Christ’s Peace and to seek a path to coexist and harmonize. In addition, Caritas calls on all to engage in an authentic dialogue leading to practical outcomes that improve the quality of life for the North Korean people.
2. Continue humanitarian assistance to North Korea
The North Korean people who are suffering from a lack of food and medical services must not be victims of these tensions. Caritas Internationalis has, for the last 16 years, carried out humanitarian assistance programs to support vulnerable North Koreans, especially children, the elderly, and pregnant women. This humanitarian assistance must continue without conditions and evolve into longer-term development programs based on mutual trust and cooperation.
3. Strengthen cooperation and solidarity
On behalf of Caritas Internationalis, we express our deep gratitude to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea for their decision to make their support for North Korea more intensive and efficient by unifying under Caritas Korea the programs of various Catholic organizations, including the National Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, the Catholic Medical Association of Korea and other organizations. Caritas Korea, the facilitating partner of Caritas Internationalis’ programs in North Korea, works in solidarity with 164 global member organizations. Together, we commit to continue to express solidarity and cooperation through moral, financial and technical support for sustainable social development especially in the area of health, agriculture and food security programs
Secretary General, Caritas Internationalis