A The United Nations An expert said North Korean women are facing increased pressure to feed their families under the country’s strict COVID measures that have driven food prices up nearly 700% in the past year.
What happened: Elizabeth Salmonthe UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, has expressed concern about the “disproportionate impact” of Kim Jong Un COVID-19 standards on women and girls in the country as she wrapped up her first visit to Seoul since taking office last month.
Salmon, lacking access to first-hand information due to the country’s secretive politics, presented his findings from interviews with recent North Korean escapees, government officials and civic groups.
“I learned that each institution, including women’s associations and schools, is given a quota to fill, to which women and children must contribute by providing materials and labor. Many children were malnourished and stunted even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.
“Market activities, which women relied on for a living, have been significantly curtailed due to the prolonged border closures,” she added.
“With no other source of income, they are still required to feed their families, care for sick family members, potentially including those with COVID-19, while making contributions to the state.”
Salmon, quoting a defector who reported an increase of up to 700% in food prices last year, said price hikes increase the possibility of starvation among the country’s 25 million people.
Earlier this week, a UN report accused North Korea of violating human rights amid Kim’s tightened coronavirus-related restrictions with additional restrictions on access to information, a security reinforced border and increased surveillance.