UN North Korea rights rapporteur speaks of possible famine

Seoul, Sep 2 (EFE).- The United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea said she was concerned Friday about testimonies she collected from people who recently fled the country and spoke of the “very real possibility” of a famine.

“Some information about the situation (in North Korea) that I have received has been alarming. I have received information indicating a very real possibility of famine among the most vulnerable population,” Elizabeth Salmon said at a press conference in Seoul.

“A person on the run recently told me the price of basic products had multiplied by six or seven times at the beginning of 2021,” the Peruvian lawyer said about the situation in the country, which has been completely closed to the outside since January 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and come to notoriety the violations of basic rights by the regime that governs it.

Although the situation seems to have improved, the exhaustive border closure and the paranoia of the regime to prevent the entry of the coronavirus caused the impoverished country to reduce the import of basic products from its main trading partner, China, by about 90 percent.

“With the closure of borders, I am concerned about the situation of that 40 percent of the population that suffered from food insecurity before the spread of Covid-19,” said the rapporteur, who took office on Aug. 1.

The strict closure of the borders, in which security has been redoubled, has also caused the number of people who can come and go from China or flee permanently from North Korea to plummet – last year only 63 arrived in the south compared to more than 1,000 in 2019. Obtaining reliable information on the situation in the country, said Salmon, will be one of the great challenges of her mandate.

The lawyer said this visit has focused almost exclusively on listening to her interlocutors – “many of them, victims of human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (official name of the country)” – and that her priority will be “listen, speak and learn” from these victims, who will be at the center of his mandate.

During her visit, Salmon underlined the need to pay special attention to North Korean women and girls, who, she recalled, have experienced the impact of the pandemic in her country with particular hardship.

“I am determined to draw more attention to the experiences of women and girls, to better understand their specific needs, and to better understand the adversities they face in the DPRK,” she said.

Salmon, a doctor in international law, is the first woman to hold this position created in 2004. EFE


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