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Action Plan 2006-2007


Last year, a single charter flight from Vietnam carried 460 North Koreans into South Korea. This case had a strong impact on the international community and spotlighted North Korea’s human rights problems. It remains to be seen, however, what lessons it has taught the South Korean government, which fears a similar incident occurring in Thailand.

Thai police recently detained 175 North Koreans, approximately twenty of whom have already been qualified as refugees by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The remainder have either not yet applied for refugee status or are awaiting judgments. It is unknown how long UNHCR staff will take to review all the applications and reach decisions. These numbers exclude others being detained by Thai immigration authorities, said to total 190 persons, none of whom have yet been interviewed by the UNHCR. In total, nearly 370 people are seeking to enter a third country. Although one group of defectors is already known to the media, making the circumstances of the two cases slightly different, the scale is similar to that of the Vietnam case. In addition, Laos and Cambodia face similar situations. In order to provide assistance to these refugees, an international campaign will be necessary, as well as the strengthening of effective partnerships with relevant NGOs.

The most pressing problem in North Korea is human rights. The North Korean government’s refusal, however, to admit the UNHCR Special Rapporteur has made it extremely difficult to assess the current human-rights situation there. This climate demands that we employ any methods available to establish the importance of human rights and democracy in the Korean peninsula. Suggested methods include the support of radio broadcasts into North Korea, the development and expansion of food distribution by NGOs, and the relaying of messages directly to the North Korean people.

Eight thousand troops have currently been moved into the Shenyang military area along the Chinese-North Korean border. If border controls become tighter, the number of North Koreans leaving the country is certain to decrease. On the other hand, it is impossible to completely block off such a long border. Projections from current numbers suggest that a mere 10, 000 people are likely to arrive in China. By conservative estimates, 60% of those will be women. If border security becomes tighter, greater numbers of these women will fall prey to human traffickers. 

LFNKR Action Plan

1. North Korean refugees and humanitarian activities
  Continue efforts to assist as many refugees as possible, including victims of human trafficking. In addition, continue to work to free the human-rights worker, Choi Yong-hun now imprisoned in China, and to support his family as well as approaching the relevant departments to arrange family visits.
2. Protection of North Korean refugees
  Build and maintain shelters as necessary;
  Ensure the capacity to provide 500 sets of seasonal (summer / winter) clothing;
  Obtain 40 tonnes of rice and other foodstuffs per year, ensuring two tonnes per month between November 2006 and May 2007 (based on 500g/day each for 133 people);
  Provide protection, resettlement funds, and assistance to defectors wishing to return to North Korea.
3. Medical Assistance
  Assemble and deliver 300 home medical first-aid kits;
  Assist those requiring hospital stays and/or treatment.
4. Education Sponsorship Plan

Although our programs for North Korean orphans (kotchebi) have ceased, a number of children who fled North Korea with their parents remain in our care.

Recently, the abandonment of children born of trafficked North Korean women and Chinese men has become a problem. Many of these men fail to provide for their families, and these abandoned children are now reaching school age.

The international community recognizes that in patriarchal China, these children ought to receive Chinese citizenship, and that their North Korean mothers, who bear the burden of raising them, ought to be granted residence status. However, the Chinese authorities subject these women to arrest and forcible repatriation; the children not sent back to North Korea with their mothers are simply abandoned. Such instances are increasing, leaving us with no option but to redouble our efforts to protect these children.

5. Immigration and Settlement

LFNKR’s highest priority is to assist those people who have fled North Korea and who can neither return to North Korea nor remain safely in China, helping them escape into a third country.

The closure of the Mindan North Korean Refugee Support Center, which had provided resettlement assistance, is truly a frustrating development. LFNKR awaits the reopening of the Center and the resumption of its work.

LFNKR currently faces the need to replace the assistance that was formerly provided by the Mindan North Korean Refugee Support Center, by increasing the number of volunteers.

LFNKR will provide Japanese-language education as needed, in cooperation with other relevant groups.

6. Development and Expansion of International Presence
  Continue participating in public hearings and conferences at the international level, including those sponsored by the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress;
  Recruit those with proficiency in Chinese, Korean, and English languages in accordance with our needs, and establish a framework for utilizing these human resources;
  Invite non-members to participate in LFNKR events.
7. Seminars and other events
  Actively provide opportunities for those working in the field, as well as defectors, to talk publicly about their experiences in order to increase awareness;
  Actively foster the development of public speakers and personnel to organize round-table discussions and workshops;
  Invite non-members to participate in LFNKR events.
8. Funding
  Continue the monthly automatic donation system via PayPal;
  Raise additional funds for increasing awareness of LFNKR’s activities, and assist as many defectors as possible.