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IFRC requests sanctions waiver for plan to help N. Korea's fight against coronavirus

All News 08:27 February 21, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- The International Red Cross has asked the United Nations to grant temporary sanctions exemptions for its efforts to help North Korea's fight against the new coronavirus, a U.S. broadcaster said Friday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made the request, Richard Blewitt, the organization's permanent observer at the U.N., was quoted as saying to Radio Free Asia.

He said that a sanctions waiver is necessary to help Pyongyang's ongoing preventive efforts against COVID-19 and provide items, such as protective suits, goggles, test kits and thermometers, to the country.

The official also said that he has heard nothing about an outbreak of the coronavirus in North Korea.

North Korea has claimed there have been no cases of coronavirus infection on its soil, but the country has been intensifying preventive efforts, including tightening its border with virus-stricken neighboring China and increasing quarantines for those coming from foreign countries.

Concerns are growing that the North could be more vulnerable to the highly contagious virus that has killed more than 2,000 people in China alone as it lacks key medical supplies to diagnose and treat infected people.

Humanitarian activities in North Korea are not banned under global sanctions imposed against its regime for its nuclear and missile provocations, but related materials are subject to sanctions waivers.

This image, captured from North Korea's Korean Central TV on Feb. 2, 2020, shows an official disinfecting a train compartment -- one of numerous disinfections taking place across the country. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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