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Veterans remains retrieval from the Korean War an important step towards peace

Veterans remains retrieval from the Korean War an important step towards peace

Published: July 27, 2018
Dan Jasper speaks at KPN conference

Daniel Jasper speaks at "Off-Ramps to War: Paths to Building Peace with North Korea."

Photo: AFSC / Carl Roose

Veterans remains retrieval from the Korean War an important step towards peace

Quaker group has called for remains retrieval to start cooperation

Washington, DC: The process has begun to repatriate remains of U.S. servicemembers from the Korean War, according to reports. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization with a longstanding humanitarian program in North Korea, has been calling for veterans remains retrieval as an important humanitarian step towards cooperation and eventual political solutions between the two countries. 

“The returning of veterans remains from North Korea is an important step towards peace,” said Dan Jasper, AFSC’s Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Asia. “This important humanitarian action reduces the risk of war, brings closure to families, and is an appropriate way to begin reconciliation.”

AFSC has been calling for humanitarian engagement, including veterans remains retrieval, in the organization’s advocacy work.

“The issue of missing U.S. servicemembers has been damaging not only to the individual families affected, but also to larger aspects of human security affecting relations between the U.S. and North Korea,” said Jasper. “Focused attention on this issue represents a viable avenue for policymakers to open channels of communication and establish the history of cooperation necessary for developing political solutions.”

“Addressing humanitarian concerns offers opportunities that can build foundations for successful negotiations and normalizing diplomatic relations,” said Linda Lewis AFSC’s Country Representative for North Korea. “Retrieving U.S. veterans’ remains from North Korea is an important humanitarian issue that needed to be addressed before time ran out, as these families are aging. Working together on this and other humanitarian goals will help prime the pump for further diplomacy.”

AFSC’s North Korea program works with four cooperative farms and agriculture research institutions to raise productivity and implement sustainable agricultural practices through pragmatic approaches that can be field-tested on partner co-operative farms.

“AFSC’s has been the most continuous example of a successful relationship between U.S and North Korean-based organizations,” said Dr. Lewis. “We’ve seen that engagement can lead to opportunities to address humanitarian crises and save lives. Since the 1980s we have had a consistent presence in the DPRK. AFSC’s relationships in the region meant we were positioned to offer relief when famine struck, despite humanitarian aid not being the program’s focus at that time. The returning of veterans remains can similarly create opportunities for further cooperation and peace.”

AFSC is also calling for humanitarian aid projects, people to people exchanges, and the reunification of Korean and Korean-American families divided by war as important steps for engagement.

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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.

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