While heavy snow fell in Tokyo in mid-February, the OperationSAFE team headed to Seoul, Korea, to share child trauma training with Cornerstone, a ministry focused on North Korea. Since the cease-fire (not a peace treaty) ended open hostilities in 1953, North Korea has become one of the most repressive human rights violators in the world. Children invariably become some of the most affected because of their vulnerability.
The UN’s commission on human rights violations in North Korea’s report that was released to the public on the 17th of February 2014 has the following things to say about children,
1. The State operates an indoctrination machine that takes root from childhood to propagate an official personality cult.
2. The State denied humanitarian access to some of the most affected regions and groups, including homeless children. Street children migrating clandestinely to Pyongyang and other cities – principally in search of food – are routinely subject to arrest and removal. The commission is particularly concerned about ongoing chronic malnutrition in children and its long-term effects.
3. An estimated 20,000 children born to women from the DPRK are currently in China but are deprived of their rights to birth registration, nationality, education and health care because registration would expose mother to repatriation. Repatriated women who are pregnant are regularly subjected to forced abortions, and babies born are often killed. In political prison camps denial of reproductive rights are enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide.
OperationSAFE and Cornerstone are strategically preparing child trauma workers to minister to children in the aftermath of the fall of the current regime in North Korea. During the training conference, CRASH Japan director Jonathan Wilson taught on Post Traumatic Stress, crisis intervention for children and how to provide ongoing care for workers over long responses. OperationSAFE leader Rie Wilson and the team coached their Korean counterparts on children’s games, songs, crafts and activities. Cornerstone also brought in speakers with first-hand experience teaching North Korean refugee children and the situation in the North.
Cornerstone has opened up a Facebook page for OperationSAFE in Korean for those interested in learning more the program.