UN Rapporteur: North Korea on the Brink of Starvation

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(Newswire.net— June 10, 2020) —  Insecurity of food availability is growing in North Korea, and in some places, there is hunger after the border with China was closed on January 21 and other measures that were invoked due to the coronavirus epidemic, warned the UN expert.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, Tomás Ojea Quintana, called on the international community to react urgently.

In his report, Mr. Quintana said that after the food shortage that caused catastrophic consequences in North Korea in the 1990s, “the current shortage and insecurity of the food supply is worrying.”

According to him, there are a growing number of families that can provide only two meals a day, some families eat only corn, and some are starving.

He called on the UN Security Council to reconsider the international sanctions that have been imposed against North Korea.

Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation in North Korea in the 1990s.

More than 40 percent of the country’s population already had difficulty procuring food before this year’s coronavirus outbreak, and many were malnourished.

One in five children under the age of five in that country is late with physical development due to malnutrition, said the spokesperson of the World Food Program, Elizabeth Beers, at an online press conference.

“So much malnutrition means that irreparable damage has been done to hundreds of thousands of children,” she warned.

Quintana said that the strict measures that were taken due to the pandemic such as curfews for going outside and closing the borders – have worsened the situation.

In March and April, North Korean trade with China fell by more than 90 percent, and many cross-border workers were left without income, he said, citing “an increase in the number of homeless people in big cities”, including “street children”. There was also a large increase in medicament prices.

According to Mr. Quintana, the soldiers are also suffering from food shortages. He also expressed concern over the situation in prisons, especially in secret camps, and called on Pyongyang to release weakened prisoners.

A year ago, the head of the UN World Food Program has called for the White House and other western donors to put children’s lives before politics and fund a major injection of aid to North Korea despite the failure of Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un, The Guardian reported.