North Koreans are struggling due to food shortage and collapse in livelihood.

The United Nations’ independent investigator in North Korea has found out that the Asian country has never been isolated so much from the international community than it is today as drastic steps to prevent Covid-19 were taken . He also notes this is having “a dramatic impact on the human rights of the people inside the country”, reported AP.

North Koreans are facing food shortages and have collapsed in their livelihoods with the most helpless being children and elderly people at risk of starvation, Tomás Ojea Quintana told the General Assembly’s human rights committee. Additional to this also highlighted the extent of hunger in the political prison camps.

For the uninitiated, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the North’s official name — has been seen closing its borders to prevent the pandemic. Other severe steps taken by the government to avert the spread of the viral disease in the nation involves a policy of shooting individuals who attempt to enter or leave the country, Quintana said.

The UN investigator further notes that the closing of the borders would have “a devastating impact” on the people’s right to health as DPRK’s health infrastructure suffers from insufficient investment and a scarcity of supplies caused by underlying human rights issues, according to the AP report.

In his concluding report to the General Assembly after six whole years as the UN special investigator on human rights in the DPRK, Ojea Quintana stated “increased restrictions on freedom of movement and the shutting of national borders has choked market activity that has become essential for people’s access to basic necessities, including food.”

Although North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un has recognized the “grim” food situation and is putting in efforts to prevent starvation in the country, closing of borders has put the lifesaving humanitarian act of the United Nations and other international actors on halt. The UN investigator said that currently there are no United Nations international staff in the country and diplomats continue to leave.

The UN investigator, in his report to the General Assembly, has recommended that in consideration of the global pandemic, the Security Council committee that monitors sanctions against the DPRK over its nuclear program “should re-evaluate the sanctions regime under these circumstances, and when necessary ease those sanctions.” Whereas humanitarian aid to the DPRK is exempt from sanctions, Ojea Quintana said sanctions have had unintentional consequences on common man.

As an example, he said, UN sanctions against the export of textiles and seafood — industries where women are the main workers — have resulted in women losing their jobs ,who are family bread-winners.

In his report, Ojea Quintana also recognised the paradox of deteriorating social and economic rights in the DPRK while the government carries on with testing missiles, “probably diverting resources that should be allocated in those areas.”

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