06/29/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA
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Caritas Coreana: 500,000USD in food aid for the north

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Caritas Coreana has allocated 500,000 US dollars to help the population in the north in view of a drastic cut in food rations decided by the Pyongyang government.

North Korea is facing its most serious food crisis since 1990 and next month could be the worst considering that – according to FAO – the regime of the "dear leader" will reduce rations from 250g to 200g per day, the lowest level since 2001.

Rations remained stable at 300g per day until the end of 2004, when they gradually went down to 250g and now to 200g. Two hundred grams of grain per day correspond to one-third of calories necessary for the survival of a human being. The system of food rations does not provide any particular subsidies. Unofficial sources talk of around 3,600,000 elderly people, children and pregnant women who live off vegetable gruel.

At its annual meeting which closed last week, apart from the donation of 500,000USD, Caritas Coreana allocated another 1,700,000USD for African and Asian countries facing problems like Bangladesh.

Another project is focused on Iraq, where Caritas will send medicine and health aid for three or four years. The aid of Caritas Coreana will reach its destinations through Caritas Internationalis, based in Rome.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Medical College of Daegu has donated medical equipment to the General Hospital of the Red Cross in North Korea. The donation takes place to mark the 25th anniversary of the Daegu college.

"We are happy to be able to share our love with our brothers and sisters in the north who are facing difficulties," said one of the College heads. "We will continue to do our best in this region also offering, in future, assistance from medical doctors."

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