Washington Memo 2019 Year in Review: Peace

Together we advocated towards peace in places of conflict.

Advocacy works! Restoring humanitarian assistance to North Korea

Mennonite Central Committee has provided humanitarian assistance to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) since 1995. In pediatric hospitals supported by MCC, children’s beds sport bright handmade comforters, children eat meals supplemented by nutritious canned meat and surgeons operate with tools donated by MCC.

This support was threatened in September 2018 when the U.S. began to block U.S. humanitarian workers from entering North Korea. The Commerce Department also began to deny most licenses for shipments of food, medicine and medical supplies.

Our office stepped into action, visiting 22 congressional offices and meeting with high-level officials at the State Department to advocate for policies that would allow us to continue our humanitarian work. MCC supporters took action as well, writing to their members of Congress in support of humanitarian assistance.

This pressure was successful! In early 2019, the Treasury and Commerce departments granted us licenses to continue our humanitarian assistance. The State Department also reversed their travel policy, and an MCC delegation was able to travel to North Korea in May 2019 to ensure that the supplies we sent reached the children and families that needed them.