[4/24 시정일기] 북한식량 지원 필요한가 ?

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부활절이다. 이번 부활절은 종교계의 자기반성이 많이 화두가 되고 있다. 예수님 당시도 당시 종교지도자,기득권층인 산헤드린,바리사이,사두개파들에 의해 죽임을 당한 것처럼 지금 이시대에 예수님이 다시 태어난다면 십자가에 다시 못박히지 않을 수 있을까 고민을 하게 하는 부활절이다. 인천기독교총연합회 주최의 부활절 연합예배에 참석하였다. 이종복감독님이 남북교회가 합의한 부활절 기도문을 발표하였다. 평양 봉수교회에서도 동일한 기도문이 부활절예배때 발표된다고 한다. 의미가 있는 발표문이다. 남과 북이 함께 마음놓고 부활절 예배나 미사를 할 수 있는 시대가 오기를 기원해본다. 오전에는 고잔,논현지구 부활절 합동미사에 참석하였다. 방송대 일본학과 중간고사를 치루었다. 다행히 공부하고 준비한 곳에서 시험문제가 나와 잘 치를 수 있었다.

 

국회의원시절 내 방에서 국제인턴비서로 일하다가 미 국무부 한국과에서 근무하면서 대북식량지원 프로그램에서 일하였던 도로시의 글이 한국헤럴드에 실려 옮겨본다. 다년간의 북한지원경험을 기초로 책을 펴낸다고 한다. 대북식량지원은 재개되어야 한다. 인도적 지원은 정치적 군사적 문제와 분리되어 지원되어져야 한다. 쌀 등이 북한 권력층이나 군대용으로 전용될 것이라는 우려를 불식시키기 위한 모니터 시스템을 보완하여한다. 모니터 강화프로그램을 합의하는 논의를 하기보다는 막연히 군사용 전용 가능성만을 이유로 굶어 죽어가는 북한 주민들을 방치한다는 것은 같은 민족을 떠나 인류적 차원에서도 직무유기이다. 국제식량기구나 미국에서 대북식량지원 재개를 검토하는데 우리정부가 도와주기는 커녕 오히려 이들에게 신중하라고 요구하는 것은 서글픈 일이다. Should we feed North Korea ? 라는 제목의 LA Times 에 실린 도로시의 글이 코리아헤럴드에 전제되었다.

 

 

Should We Feed North Korea?

North Korea has recently made a desperate international appeal for food aid. Reports from aid workers and international nongovernmental organizations warn of a major food shortage. As the United States deliberates whether to restart a food aid program in North Korea, it must consider the following questions: Is there a true humanitarian need, can we address the potential risk of food diversion and can a properly monitored program allow us to engage with the vulnerable citizens of one of the most isolated countries in the world?

The concern about potential food aid diversion arises out of the political class system in North Korea. The government considers its most loyal citizens to be the elite, who mostly live in the capital of Pyongyang, and the military. However, everyone else ― whose loyalty is seen as questionable and/or who has not had the good fortune of being born into the right family ― lives outside Pyongyang in areas that are an afterthought for the North Korean government. And it is this vulnerable part of the population that would be the intended beneficiaries of any food aid program.

According to a monthlong assessment conducted by the U.N. World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization released in March, there is a true humanitarian need among these vulnerable people. The United Nations’ report also concludes that 6 million people (one-fourth of the population) are in dire need of food.

But with the importance that the North Korean government has given to the elite and the military, the major concern is will those who need this aid be the actual recipients of it? The 2008-09 food aid program agreed to by the United States and North Korea offers the best model for addressing this concern. The agreement set up unprecedented standards in access and monitoring, allowing the U.S. to really get to the people who needed food the most.

I traveled eight times to North Korea as a U.S. government official to oversee implementation of that program. I participated in some of the more than 3,000 monitoring visits conducted during the 10-month-long program to oversee the journey of U.S. food from its arrival in North Korea to the institutions where we distributed food to our beneficiaries. This type of thorough monitoring made it difficult for any significant amount of food aid to be diverted to the military or elite. In addition, in a country where rice is viewed as such an important part of a meal, the wheat, corn and corn-soy blend that we strategically provided is not palatable to the elite, further minimizing diversion concerns.

The food aid program also offered an incredible opportunity to engage with regular North Korean citizens. People who spoke Korean were permitted in North Korea to monitor and administer the program, something not allowed under any previous food aid program. As a Korean speaker myself, I experienced how knowing the language brought extra depth and cultural insight to the encounters with non-elite North Koreans outside Pyongyang. When I drove through those closed societies far from the capital, the visits to homes, schools, orphanages and public distribution centers gave these North Koreans an unforgettable experience: contact with foreigners and Americans. It gave them a window on the outside world and perhaps a different perspective of the U.S. Through my interaction with them, I was able to confirm how much they appreciated our help and that they clearly knew the food aid was coming from the United States.

Granted, the North Korean government made attempts to deviate from the terms of the agreement, and it prematurely ended it. But overall, for the 10 months we lived and worked in North Korea, much was accomplished in terms of our humanitarian and diplomatic objectives.

In the event that negotiations for another food aid program with North Korea resume, the Obama administration is justified in requiring that North Korea adhere to strong monitoring standards. And although there is always room for improvement in monitoring and access, the 2008 agreement offers a proven model and foundation for any future food aid effort.

Through a properly monitored program, we have the power to preserve the lives of and engage diplomatically with an otherwise unreachable population in North Korea. As human beings and as Americans, we should not miss this opportunity.

Dorothy Stuehmke, the senior adviser to the U.S.-North Korea 2008-09 food aid program for the U.S. Agency for International Development, served in the Office of Korean Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 2006 to 2008. ― Ed.

By Dorothy Stuehmke

(Los Angeles Times)

(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)
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