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North Korea Becomes Latest Nation Driven into Famine by Economic Sanctions

April 28 , 2021 (EIRNS)—There are reports now that North Korea—a nation which lost anywhere from 1 to 3 million of its 22 million of its people to famine in the 1990s—is heading towards a new famine, under the combined assault of the coronavirus and some of the tightest sanctions imposed on any country in the world.

South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young has been warning for some months of the danger of “extreme famine” in North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un himself is reported to have told a party congress in early April that the country was facing the “worst-ever situation” due to widespread food shortage, comparing what is coming to the “arduous march,” as the 1990s famine is known there.

Simone Chun, a leader of the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea, indicted the hideous sanctions policy in an article Truthout two days ago:

“Subjected to ever-increasing sanctions, North Korea is projected to suffer a food deficit of 1.3 million tons this year, worsening the already dire condition endured by a broad swath of the population. More than 40% of North Korea’s 25 million people are considered chronically food insecure, and one out of every five children under the age of 5 is impacted by stunted growth. The latest UN Human Rights Council report highlights ‘deaths by starvation’ as well as ‘an increase in the number of children and elderly people who have resorted to begging.’ ”

UN sanctions—initiated at the behest of Obama and tightened under Trump—even prohibit the nation from importing foodstuffs and critical agricultural components, a measure

“openly violating the 1977 Additional Protocol of the Geneva Convention, which specifically forbids any action that erodes agricultural production, ‘whatever the motive.’ Unsurprisingly, precipitous drops in agricultural production have occurred as a result. Food has become increasingly scarce, causing more than 1 million additional North Korean civilians to slip into food insecurity as a result.... The increasing scarcity of even basic food items disproportionately impacts the poor, the sick and elderly, as well as newborns.”

Add to that the restrictions on oil and petroleum product imports under the UN sanctions which have triggered “an energy shortage that has reduced the reach of the country’s already spotty supply of electricity to less than a quarter of households. This past winter, millions of ordinary North Koreans endured extreme winter temperatures as low as 3° Fahrenheit without reliable heating or electricity.”

Biden’s team is reported to be readying to announce its conclusions after reviewing policy towards North Korea. Chun warns that it would be a crime against humanity

“to continue a sanctions regime that is, by design, based on collective punishment.... Does the United States have the right to implement a policy of inflicting deliberate harm on the weak and vulnerable based on the cold calculus that doing so will increase its foreign policy leverage? Should the fate of children, the sick and the elderly be used as bargaining chips to induce concessions from their government?”

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