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U.N. human rights chief calls for sanctions relief on N.K. over coronavirus concerns

All News 11:37 March 25, 2020

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called for the easing of sanctions on North Korea amid efforts to prevent the global spread of the new coronavirus.

Bachelet made the appeal in a statement released on the agency's website Tuesday (local time) saying that sanctions on countries including North Korea, Iran and Cuba should be exempted as these countries are among ones "facing the coronavirus pandemic."

"At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended."

She also warned that sanctions may impede medical efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus as these countries lack medical equipment and supplies, increasing the risk of infection in neighboring countries and across the world.

"Humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be given broad and practical effect, with prompt, flexible authorization for essential medical equipment and supplies," she added.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed infections, but it has called for nationwide efforts to prevent the virus from breaking out on its soil through intensified border controls and a tightened quarantine process.

Concerns are lingering that North Korea could be vulnerable, as it shares a long and porous border with China, where the virus originated, and lacks key medical supplies and infrastructure to test and treat infected people.

This file photo shows United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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