Oct 08, 2021 08:01 UTC
  • North Korea to face starvation if Security Council sanctions not eased, UN expert warns

A UN expert has warned that North Korea's most vulnerable people will face starvation if crushing sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council are not eased and the peninsular country slips deeper into isolation.  

Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, sounded the warning in a not-yet-published report cited by Reuters, stressing that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Asian country could turn into a crisis.

“Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be reviewed and eased when necessary to both facilitate humanitarian and life-saving assistance and to enable the promotion of the right to an adequate standard of living of ordinary citizens,” he said in his final report to the UN General Assembly, to be presented on October 22.

“People’s access to food is a serious concern and the most vulnerable children and elderly are at risk of starvation,” the UN expert said, adding that North Koreans “should not have to choose between the fear of hunger and the fear of COVID-19.”

North Korea has not yet reported any COVID-19 cases and has, since the outbreak of the contagious disease, imposed tough anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.

“Essential medicines and medical supplies are in short supply and prices have increased several-fold as they stopped coming in from China, and humanitarian organizations have been unable to bring in medicines and other supplies,” Quintana said.

According to the UN expert, progress in vaccination, women and children's health, and water and sanitation in North Korea is eroding.

“The current worsening humanitarian situation could turn into a crisis and must be averted,” Quintana stressed.

Back in June, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said the food situation was “tense” in his country due to natural disasters last year.

Pyongyang has so far rejected all the UN resolutions against its nuclear and missile programs since 2006, when it carried out its first nuclear test, saying such provocative measures directly infringe on its sovereign right to self-defense.

Denuclearization talks have been stalled since 2019, with North Korea demanding sanctions relief.