12, Dec 2017
UN human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said at a special security council meeting that stringent sanctions levied on North Korea are affecting the flow of humanitarian aid into the country. 70% of North Korea’s population, an estimated 18 million people, struggle with a severe lack of food, and humanitarian agencies supply “literally a lifeline” for 13 million of these, according to the rights chief, who said “sanctions may be adversely affecting this essential help”. He explained that sanctions that have restricted international bank transfers “have caused a slowdown in UN ground operations, affecting the delivery of food rations, health kits and other humanitarian aid”. He asked the council to carry out an assessment of the sanctions’ effect on human rights, and called for steps to be taken to mitigate the effects. A UN commission of inquiry has alleged that North Korea is operating a web of prison camps and engaging in pervasive abuse, including torture and arbitrary detention. The UN human rights chief said “the context of military tensions seems to have deepened the extremely serious human rights violations” against the country’s citizens.