By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. state department on Friday put out a rare statement calling for global efforts to improve human rights conditions in North Korea.
The statement, issued by department spokesperson Ned Price, insisted more than 100,000 North Koreans, including children, remain detained in prison camps across North Korea.
"As we reflect on North Korea Freedom Week, we recognize the courage of the North Korean defector and human rights community, which continues to speak on behalf of the millions of North Koreans suffering deplorable abuses and who are unable to advocate for themselves," said the released statement.
"More than 100,000 individuals, including children, remain detained in the country's vast network of prison camps, while the regime diverts resources from the people and systematically uses forced labor to generate revenue in support of its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs," it added.
North Korea Freedom Week is organized by South Korean and international rights activist groups and is usually held in the last week of April. This year's freedom week, the 19th of its kind, however, was held this week.
The department spokesperson argued those who have defected North Korea also continue to face repression, as well as threats of repatriation.
"For those who have escaped, many remain vulnerable to abuse and are subjected to transnational repression. We remain deeply concerned about the plight of North Korean asylum seekers," he said.
"North Koreans who are forcibly repatriated are reportedly commonly subjected to summary execution, torture, arbitrary detention, forced abortion, and other forms of gender-based violence," he added.
Price said the U.S. will continue its efforts to expose human rights abuses in North Korea.
"The United States remains committed to shining a spotlight on the egregious human rights situation in the DPRK and working with allies and partners to promote accountability and increase the free flow of information into, out of, and within the DPRK," he said.
"The international community must act to hold accountable those responsible for these human rights abuses," the spokesperson added.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
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