‘It is imperative that the population of North Korea start to be vaccinated’
North Korea should be provided at least 60 million doses of 冠状病毒病-19 vaccines and the international community should come together to chart out a strategy for this, an independent 一种 human rights investigator has said.
“It is imperative that the population of North Korea start to be vaccinated… so that the government will have no excuse to maintain the closing of the borders,” Tomas Ojea Quintana, a UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said on Wednesday.
Covid vaccines could be a way to convince the hermit kingdom to ease its lockdown regulations which have currently sealed off some 26 million people in the country amid reports of harsh winter and starvation, the UN official said while speaking in Seoul.
“The most serious situation in North Korea is food,” Mr Ojea Quintana said, adding that some of Pyongyang’s most vulnerable population is staring at the risk of starvation.
The official added that he had floated the idea of providing 60 million Covid jabs to North Korea during meetings with international diplomats in Seoul, but the proposals have not yet reached Pyongyang’s door formally.
A number of issues would need to be worked out, including payments and sanction hurdles North Korea currently faces, 他说.
North Korea has an obligation to balance out its people’s need for food, which is linked to their freedom of movement, even if it sees legitimate public health reasons to shut itself out from the rest of the world, Mr Ojea Quintana said.
By imposing these restrictions and closing itself off from the rest of the world, North Korea has damaged the existing situation as it continues to rely on commercial activities along China’s border, 这位官员说.
This has been magnified by the impact of sanctions, further impacting the country and millions in it, 他说.
The UN special investigator has asked for the calls for sanctions on North Korea to be more flexible in order to not cause humanitarian harm to ordinary residents.
North Korea is the only known country to have not officially announced any Covid cases, deaths or even its own vaccination plans.
The borders to North Korea remained shut for two years until they opened gradually last month.
It has rejected shipments of the AstraZeneca Covid 疫苗 clubbed under the global Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) 倡议 as it feared side effects, according to a South Korean think-tank.
None of the Pyongyang officials are known to have asked for Covid vaccines, even as the status of the country’s handling of the Covid pandemic remains unclear.
Mr Ojea Quintana said North Korean officials appeared to be suspicious of receiving a partial amount of vaccines and “then to be under pressure to accept more, something that could be resolved by reaching a deal to provide enough doses for the whole country”.