Financial Crunch Also Hits LFNKR

Feeling the Financial Crisis

Falling donations are slashing LFNKR’s rescue activities. This means disaster for many of the North Korean refugees now waiting for help. In fact, we can do less and less for them as our operating funds shrink. It’s a fact that most NGOs in Japan now face financial crisis. LFNKR is, unfortunately, no exception.  Some large-scale organizations command huge financial support from religious or political sources. We do not.

From the beginning we have avoided ties with any special interest group. This was to assure that we had no hidden agendas. No cloaked obligations. Our funding has always come from private donors, straight up, individuals only. This left us free to do one job – help NK refugees – and do it well.

And since 1998 LFNKR has done this job. Last year we supplied more than 30 tons of rice to the most needy, starving people inside North Korea through our own proprietary distribution network. 

In addition, our educational sponsorship program currently provides protection and basic education for 30 North Korean refugee children.  Some of these children are orphans who fled alone from the starvation in North Korea.

Other children were born to NK defector women “married” to ethnic Korean-Chinese men, then later abandoned in China when the mothers were arrested and shipped back to North Korea. Such fathers usually have no interest in the children of their union.

In addition, LFNKR also helps North Korean defectors urgently seeking to escape from China into safer third countries, then on to destinations where they wish to resettle.  So far, our small group, working jointly with UNHCR and certain governments involved, has helped about 300 North Korean refugees out of China and onward to South Korea, Japan, the USA, the UK, and Australia.

All these activities have been supported by the donations of private individuals, people like youi who display a profound understanding of what humanitarian and human rights activities really mean. 

LFNKR has always given top priority to the rescue of North Korean refugees, keeping administration costs as low as possible. When North Korean defectors contact us for help, and it proves to be an especially urgent case requiring protection, we send the necessary people at once.

Lately, this has caused a problem. Our organization has a full-time employee always on call to assure no calls for help are ever missed. As of this week, that full-time worker has voluntarily foregone his salary for 15 straight months, choosing to live on his savings, so that donated money could go to rescue activities. His savings are now gone, and he faces a harsh dilemma. Shall he continue to assist the refugees (and sink further into personal crisis), or find a new job and let the refugees go. That is no easy decision.

Another factor – as our activities have become more widely known, increasing numbers of North Korean refugees hearing of us contact our people for help.  More help, of course, means more expenses. 

Of course it was wonderful to receive the Tokyo Bar Association’s Human Rights Award in January 2009, but it brought little inflow of new funds. It’s ironic – despite the highly welcome recognition, and the spotlight of world attention it focuses on NK refugees’ suffering, we may be forced to downsize our rescue activities.

We fully recognize there’s a worldwide recession. For that reason we invite you to help us offset this challenge by making smaller but more regular donations.

Also, if you’d help us by sending new donors our way, we may avoid cutting back rescue activities.  Please tell your friends about the North Korean refugees. Tell them what LFNKR is doing to help these people in need. Send them to our website so they can see for themselves and personally feel that need.

And if you’ve already donated this month, please accept our profound appreciation for your continued support. 

With our deepest thanks,
The LFNKR staff

Report submitted by Chizuko Yamashita
(Accounting auditor of LFNKR)