Quaker org’s North Korea program one of few links between countries
PHILADELPHIA (August 30, 2017) On August 22, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) filed a public comment with the State Department expressing deep concerns over the travel restrictions to North Korea set to take effect on September 1. AFSC – a Quaker organization that has been working with North Koreans since 1980 to address human and global security – is one of the few U.S.-based organizations operating in the country today.
According to the comment, “As communication between the U.S. and DPRK continue to rely on few and, at times, singular official channels of communication, [AFSC] calls upon the Department of State to recognize the ever-growing need to establish more forms of communication and expand spaces for people-to-people connections between the U.S. and the DPRK.”
The document goes on to note that “the travel restrictions could impact essential humanitarian assistance to ordinary North Koreans,” and urges the State Department to enact a transparent and accessible process to apply for exemptions, a mechanism for appeal for those whose applications are denied, and the ability for third parties to submit applications on behalf of those who are elderly or disabled.
“We’re deeply concerned about these travel restrictions and their potential impact on the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea,” said Daniel Jasper, Advocacy Coordinator for AFSC’s work in Asia. “AFSC’s work in the DPRK has been the most continuous example of a successful relationship between U.S and North Korean-based organizations, and we want to see increased avenues for engagement, not more restrictions.”
The American Friends Service Committee has been engaged in relief efforts on the Korean Peninsula since the years after the Korean War. AFSC’s North Korea program is currently working with cooperative farms to raise productivity and implement sustainable agricultural practices in the region.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.