A United Nations human rights expert is calling on the 15-member U.N. security council to reconsider economic sanctions on North Korea after expressing concern over starvation and malnutrition in the hermit nation.
U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana, warned on Tuesday that “widespread food shortages and malnutrition” has been exacerbated by economic sanctions.
“An increasing number of families eat only twice a day, or eat only corn, and some are starving,” Mr. Quintana said in a statement, obtained by Reuters.
While North Korea has not reported any cases COVID-19, despite a significant shared border that has been closed for nearly 5 months, cutting off a primary food supply, Mr. Quintana said the pandemic has ignited “drastic economic hardship” to the country.
The outbreak drastically cut trade with China throughout March and April of this year, which led to widespread income loss, the publication reported.
Humanitarian operations have been suspended in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with stockpiles of medical aid outside the country’s borders. Mr. Quintana called on the international community to allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered “without restrictions.”