The online fundraising platform GoFundMe has pulled a campaign aimed at raising money to send coronavirus-related medical supplies to North Korea, the campaign’s organizers said Thursday, in a move reportedly linked to concerns over sanctions.
In a statement, the Korean American Public Action Committee (KAPAC) told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that GoFundMe had informed them that the fundraiser had been removed “due to sanctions involving an unsupported country and a violation of our Terms & Conditions.”
“Our Terms & Conditions, along with strictly enforced policies from the payments industry and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), prohibit GoFundMe from allowing you to continue raising money on our platform,” GoFundMe reportedly said.
Speaking to NK News on Friday, a KAPAC spokesperson said the group was disappointed to see “the barrier of international politics” hindering humanitarian work, insisting that the NGO had explicitly made clear that they hoped to deliver the aid through UN agencies such as UNICEF.
“Our principle for delivery is ‘transparently, publicly, and legally’ through UN agencies, and it is a campaign solely for humanitarian assistance,” they went on.
“NGOs will be able to respond more quickly and flexibly to any crisis regarding the virus in North Korea… only when the U.S. administration lifts the barrier that hampers humanitarian assistance for North Korea.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had repeatedly said that medical aid aimed at helping developing countries in their COVID-19 response is not subject to sanctions, the KAPAC noted. The U.S. Treasury, too, has sought to streamline the process.
Despite those steps, the KAPAC spokesperson said, “U.S. sanctions pressure against North Korea… is, on the ground, still sustained as it were,” complaining of “hardship and arduous procedures” in their humanitarian work.
GoFundMe did not respond to a request for comment from NK News, but the company’s terms and conditions do stipulate that users must not use the website to raise funds for governments “on sanctions lists identified by the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).”
U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey and Congressman Andy Levin last month introduced the “Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act (ENKHA),” in a bid to “to expedite the delivery of lifesaving aid by nongovernmental organizations to the people of North Korea.”
KAPAC — the organizers of the cancelled GoFundMe campaign — was one of several NGOs to co-sign a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging it to support that law, alongside others groups including the American Friends Service Committee, Ignis Community, and Mennonite Central Committee.
“Humanitarian aid, already subject to a long and complex approval process, has been further delayed by quarantines and border closings,” the joint letter said.
“It is urgent that the U.S. remove additional barriers to humanitarian aid so that nongovernmental organizations can respond with speed and flexibility not only to a potential pandemic in North Korea but also to the underlying needs exacerbated by this crisis.”
KAPAC’s campaign to raise money for medical supplies to send North Korea was originally set to go on until July 10, according to the organization. $33,000 had reportedly been promised as of Monday.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
The online fundraising platform GoFundMe has pulled a campaign aimed at raising money to send coronavirus-related medical supplies to North Korea, the campaign's organizers said Thursday, in a move reportedly linked to concerns over sanctions.
In a statement, the Korean American Public Action Committee (KAPAC) told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency that GoFundMe had informed them that the fundraiser had been removed "due to sanctions involving an unsupported country and a violation of our Terms & Conditions."