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N. Korea faces serious humanitarian crisis: report

A health worker sanitizing Pyongyang Station in the capital to prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus. (KCNA-Yonhap)
A health worker sanitizing Pyongyang Station in the capital to prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korea faces a serious humanitarian crisis due to shortages of food, clean water and medical services aggravated by poor governance and repressive internal political measures, a Swiss international nongovernmental organization has said.

According to the annual "Inform Severity Index" report compiled by the Geneva-based Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), North Korea faces a "very high" level of humanitarian crisis severity.

This represented the highest level of a six-tier crisis evaluation scale. The North was among 13 countries with that same level of around 60 countries analyzed. The report also ranked North Korea among the countries with "very high constraints" in humanitarian access.

"The humanitarian situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is driven by political and economic factors as well as natural hazards," the report said, using the North's official name.

"Chronic food insecurity and limited access to basic services such as healthcare and clean water have left more than 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance," it added.

The report estimated that around 8.7 million people lack access to adequate health facilities, while 8.4 million people lack access to safe water sources.

The report also said that "poor governance and repressive internal political measures have negatively impacted the population by restricting movement and access to goods and services."

North Korea experienced one of the its "wettest" periods this summer since 1981 as it was hit by heavy downpours and flooding.

The report said that it remains unclear as to what extent they would affect food security across the country.

North Korea is believed to be suffering chronic food shortages due to unfavorable weather conditions in recent years and the impact of global sanctions on its economy.

A prolonged border closure in place since earlier this year due to the global coronavirus pandemic is also feared to make things worse by hampering imports of grains and other necessary materials from China. (Yonhap)
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