North Korean children and elderly are at risk of starvation

United Nations (Associated Press)-A UN investigator said in a report released on Wednesday that North Koreans living under strict pandemic restrictions are facing a growing food crisis, and this isolated Asian country is the most vulnerable Of children and the elderly are in danger of starvation.

Tomás Ojea Quintana says That report To the UN General Assembly that due to the reduction in imports of fertilizers and other agricultural products from neighboring China, the impact of UN and international sanctions on its nuclear program, and the outbreak of the African epidemic, the North Korean agricultural sector appears to be facing multiple challenges with swine fever.

He said that since January 2020, long-term and strict pandemic measures have caused “serious economic difficulties and increased the vulnerability of ordinary people to human rights violations.” These measures include complete border closures, restrictions on travel between cities and regions, and restrictions on the import of non-essential goods, including humanitarian goods.

The Argentine lawyer said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40% of North Koreans were “food insecure” and many were malnourished and stunted. He said that according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, this number has increased, indicating that the prices of rice and corn in different regions rose in June and that the government took emergency measures.

North Korea said on Monday that leader Kim Jong Un urged officials to overcome the “serious situation” and “unprecedented difficulties” facing the country and work harder to improve the people’s food and living conditions. According to official media, in his speech celebrating the 76th anniversary of the ruling Labor Party, Kim Jong-un affirmed the party’s determination to implement a five-year plan to “revitalize the national economy and solve the problem of people’s food, clothing, and housing”. . “

Ojea Quintana (Ojea Quintana) painted a grim picture of life for the North Korean people, who “have suffered and waited too long for peace, security, development and basic human rights”,

He said that since the COVID-19 restrictions, they have faced increasingly severe tests, including further isolation, “the state’s wider and stricter control over people’s lives, further suffocation of economic activities, and the withdrawal of humanitarian agencies from the country. country.”

Therefore, he said, “Families can no longer support themselves”, and more and more people are making a living through loans and selling household items.

“Due to lack of electricity, machine parts and raw materials, many factories and mines have been closed,” Ojea Quintana said. “The number of homeless people and street children is increasing… It is reported that social problems such as prostitution, drug abuse, drug trafficking and robbery are on the rise due to economic deprivation.”

He said that according to reports, the government has mobilized urban residents, newly retired people, orphans and married women to support agricultural production and farm work. But he said the floods in early August and the lack of fertilizers, pesticides, vehicle fuel and agricultural parts “may affect food production.”

In his extensive final report as the UN Special Investigator on Human Rights in North Korea, Ogia Quintana called on the Security Council to consider lifting “sanctions that have a negative impact on humanitarian assistance and human rights, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.” .

He once again called on the most powerful United Nations agency to submit the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court or set up a court to investigate possible crimes against humanity.

Ojea Quintana said: “These crimes may still continue, mainly reflected in the continued operation of large political prison camps.”

He said that the existence of these camps known as kwanliso “represents the most serious excesses of a governance system that systematically violates the human rights of its people”.

Due to differences in North Korea’s demand for an end to the sanctions led by the United States and the United States’ demand for North Korea to take major denuclearization steps, the nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled for more than two years.

North Korea has intensified its missile testing activities in recent weeks, and at the same time it has made a conditional peace offer to South Korea, reforming a model that pressures South Korea to get what it wants from the United States.

Ohya Quintana said: “It’s time to send clear signals, take concrete actions, and find creative ways to advance the deadlocked diplomatic process to ensure a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which may include the declaration of a peace declaration between the parties.”

Since he took office in 2016, North Korea has refused to allow Ojea Quintana to visit the country. He said that COVID-19 restricted his access to neighboring countries, so he held a series of online meetings with victims of human rights violations, their families, civil society organizations, UN agencies and UN member states.

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