Concern to return to North Korea as threat level decreases

Irish NGO feels situation has calmed in recent days

North Korean soldiers with military dogs take part in drills in an unknown location in this unauthenticated picture released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency. Photograph: REUTERS/KCNA RS

North Korean soldiers with military dogs take part in drills in an unknown location in this unauthenticated picture released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency. Photograph: REUTERS/KCNA RS

 

Concern, the only Irish non-government organisation to provide aid to North Korea, is set to return to the area after suspending operations there last week.

Concern decided to temporarily suspend operations due to the increasing threat of war, but yesterday decided to begin full serivce again.

The organisation’s overseas director of aid Paul O’Brien said the threat level has reduced sufficiently to allow aid work to continue.

“We think the situation has calmed down sufficiently to return to full operations,” he said.

Last week Mr O’Brien said he hoped things would have settled down in the country by the time former leader Kim Il-Sung’s birthday, which took place three days ago.

Concern has 14 workers in the area. Eleven of them are from North Korea, while there are also three international workers from Nepal, India and Sweden. The only Irish Concern employee in the area left a number of months ago.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has not changed its travel warning for those travelling to North Korea and is advising people to avoid all non-essential travel there.

The travel warning reads: “Since conducting what was stated to be a nuclear test on February 12th 2013 tensions have increased on the Korean Peninsula. Most recently, these statements have concerned the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex shared with the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

“In light of the fact that the North Korean authorities have indicated to the diplomatic community that they cannot guarantee their safety, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now advises against all non-essential travel to the DPRK (North Korea).”