UN: Children and old people are in danger of famine in North Korea

North Koreans living under tight restrictions from the pandemic face a growing food crisis, and the most vulnerable children and elderly in the isolated Asian nation are at risk of starvation, a UN researcher warned in a report released Wednesday.

Argentine lawyer Tomás Ojea Quintana, United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, pointed out in the document addressed to the UN General Assembly that the North Korean agricultural sector apparently faces various challenges due to a fall on imports of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs from neighboring China, the aftermath of international and UN sanctions for its nuclear program, and an outbreak of African swine fever.

He noted that the prolonged and strict measures taken since January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in “severe economic hardship and increased vulnerability to human rights violations among the general population.” The measures include total border closures, restrictions on travel between cities and regions, and restrictions on imports of non-essential supplies, including humanitarian items.

Before the pandemic, Ojea Quintana noted, more than 40% of North Koreans were “food insecure” and many suffered from malnutrition and stunted growth. The figure has increased, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said Ojea Quintana, noting the price increases of rice and corn in various regions in June and government emergency measures.

North Korea said on Monday that its ruler Kim Jong Un called on officials to overcome the “grim situation” and “unprecedented difficulties” facing the country and intensify their actions to improve the diet and living conditions of the North. village. According to the state press, in his speech on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party, Kim ratified the party’s determination to carry out a five-year plan to boost “the national economy and solve the problems of food, clothing and food. town house ”.

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In his final report as rapporteur, Ojea Quintana urged the Security Council to consider lifting the sanctions “that negatively affect humanitarian assistance and human rights, including under the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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