Community of Sant’Egidio in North Korea
A colleague brought to our attention that the Community of Sant-Egidio —a Catholic public lay association—has reached an agreement to deliver food to North Korea (story here). The Community began in Rome in 1968 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, founded by a young idealist named Andrea Riccardi and a group of high-school students who sought to put the gospel into practice. A distinctive feature of the community is its particular emphasis on the poor; its work began in the slums of Rome.
What is revealing about the story is the evidence it provides of the ongoing practice of tasking diplomats to raise aid funds. According to the story, the aid program was set up at the request of North Korea’s former ambassador to Rome, Han Tae-Song.
“[North] Korean diplomats had often visited Sant’Egidio asking for help for their distressed population,” a Community spokesperson said following a trip to North Korea.
More NGO forces on the ground is generally a good thing, and our hats go off to the Community, which now operates in over 70 countries. If only the regime would spend equal effort on actually doing something about the food situation rather than the band-aid of begging for food we would all have even more to be thankful for.