May 24, 2013 10:17
Chinese financial sanctions on North Korea are forcing European aid organizations working there to consider packing up and leaving.
The Bank of China on May 7 closed the accounts of the North's Foreign Trade Bank, which had served as the conduit for European NGOs' funds. Now they can no longer get hold of vital funds, they may have to pull out.
Six global NGOs are working in North Korea in food aid and children's issues. They include Germany's Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid) and the U.K.'s Save the Children.
Their headquarters have so far remitted money to their offices in the North through the Foreign Trade Bank via the Bank of China, which deals with European banks.
The EU has not so far fully signed up to UN sanctions against the North, but some European banks have also voluntarily stopped remittances to the North.
The Welthungerhilfe recently failed to send an operation fund of 300,000 euros to its office in the North, according to an official with the NGO.
"This could eventually reduce our ability to carry out projects or even force a complete close-down," said Mathias Mogge of Welthungerhilfe. "If all the agencies had to pull out, it would affect millions of people."
Mogge himself was until recently stationed in the North.
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