The North Korean ambassador to the UN on Wednesday said international sanctions were affecting vulnerable families in the DPRK and were blocking the delivery of medical equipment.
Speaking at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva, Ambassador Han Tae Song also called for the return of 12 North Korean women who defected from a restaurant in China in 2016.
“Due to these inhumane economic sanctions, vulnerable peoples like women and children are becoming… victims,” Han said in comments carried by Reuters.
“Such sanctions against humanity which block even the delivery of the medical equipment and medicines for maternal and child health and the basic goods for daily life.”
The North Korean diplomat added the measures made it difficult for the DPRK to protect women’s rights and threaten children’s right to survival.
The UN, U.S, South Korea, and Japan have all increased sanctions pressure on North Korea in recent months amid the country’s accelerated weapons testing schedule, though sanctions, typically, do not target medical equipment.
A UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report published in early 2017 said it did not find “direct” evidence of UN restrictions causing humanitarian difficulties.
But the report also noted that “member States’ and private sector measures have also been reported as seriously affecting the ability of humanitarian agencies to procure some goods for their operations.”
North Korea’s cabinet last month held an enlarged plenary meeting to discuss means to overcome international sanctions and promote trade “tactically,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
Officials called for Pyongyang to “smash the vicious scheme of sanctions and pressure with the power of the science and technology” by strengthening the independence of the national economy.
Speaking to NK News in June, a representative from UNICEF said that while sanctions did affect delivery times of some medicines, this was often due to the special requirements necessary to ship some items.
“The need to source carriers and find routes that are approved for the transport of dangerous goods mean these humanitarian supplies often arrive more slowly than goods not categorized as dangerous for transport purposes,” Chris de Bono, UNICEF Regional Communications Chief for the East Asia and Pacific region, said.
Yet despite the restrictions, UNICEF remained confident it could deliver the necessary equipment to the DPRK.
“The Kim regime pointing to the North Korean people as victims of sanctions is interesting because the regime uses its revenue on nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, luxury goods for the elites, and sells seafood overseas rather than use these resources to feed the North Korean people,” Anthony Ruggiero, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told NK News.
“If North Korea is concerned about the welfare of its people, it should close the prison camps, stop spending money on nuclear weapons, and use its revenue to purchase food and medicine.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: ONU Genève (UN Geneva) by MPD01605 on 2008-04-24 14:59:28