North Korean kids and elderly risk starving, says UN report – ‘Grim situation’

North Korea insists it has the right to test missiles

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On top of recent floods which submerged “hundreds of hectares of farmland”, North Korea is also facing a food crisis unless international help intervenes. Tomás Ojea Quintana, an Argentinian lawyer and the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Kim Jung-Un’s country, released a worrying report to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Mr Ojea Quintana’s report said the current agricultural sector is facing many challenges as fertilizer, pesticides, fuel for vehicles and other agricultural items are lacking.

In January 2020, to protect the country from Covid, North Korea went into a full-scale border shutdown which prevented any importation of goods from China.

North Korea relies on Beijing for a lot of food, fertiliser and fuel.

Humanitarian goods, as of today, can’t enter the country as they are considered as the importation of non-essential supplies.

The country is also experiencing international sanctions stemming from its nuclear program, which the UN investigator urges the international community to review per the urgency of the food crisis.

The report concluded that prices for rice and corn have risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic.

NK News revealed in June that a kilogram of bananas cost $45 (£32).

Because of the crisis, Tomás Ojea Quintana says “families can no longer support themselves.”

“Many factories and mines have shut down because of a lack of power, machine parts and raw materials,” he said.

“The number of homeless people and street children is increasing and social concerns such as prostitution, drug use, trafficking of drugs and robbery are reportedly on the rise due to economic deprivation.”

The UN investigator called on the Security Council to consider lifting sanctions “that negatively affect humanitarian assistance and human rights, including under the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Ojea Quintana was appointed in 2016 but North Korea has refused to let him visit the country so far.

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His investigation included a series of online meetings with victims of human rights violations, their family members, civil society organizations, UN agencies and UN member nations.

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has mentioned the “grim situation” and the “unprecedented difficulties” his country was facing in a speech marking the 76th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Kim confirmed the party’s determination to carry out a five-year plan to boost “the national economy and solving the people’s food, clothing and housing problems.”

Before the pandemic, over 40% of North Koreans were already “food insecure,” with many suffering from malnutrition and stunted growth according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

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