Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

That same month, leader Kim Jong Un said the food situation was “getting tense”.

Ordinary North Koreans are “fighting daily … to live a dignified life,” and the deteriorating humanitarian situation could “turn into a crisis,” said Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, in his latest report.

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Picture for read more article 'A senior army jumper gives first interview about life in North Korea'

Pyongyang is under several sets of international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which have seen rapid progress under Mr Kim.

Quintana said such restrictions should be relaxed to protect the country’s most vulnerable in the face of a severe food shortage.

“The most vulnerable children and the elderly are at risk of starvation,” he said.

“Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be revised and relaxed when necessary to facilitate both humanitarian and life-saving assistance.”

The report comes about three months after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said North Korea was facing a food shortage of about 860,000 tonnes this year and could experience a “hard lean time”.

Pyongyang has stayed away from negotiations on its nuclear program since the collapse of another summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump in Hanoi and has rejected South Korean efforts to revive dialogue.

Under President Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly stated that it is willing to meet with North Korean representatives, while saying it will seek denuclearization.

But this week, Kim blamed Washington for tensions on the peninsula, insisting that Pyongyang’s weapons were for self-defense and were not aimed at a specific country.

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