Government responds to questions about famine in North Korea, the effects of COVID-19 on its population, and whether these issues or other factors explain the scale of the evacuation of Russians from North Korea
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL1782):
Question by Lord Alton of Liveroool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the famine in North Korea, (2) the effects of COVID-19 on its population, and (3) whether these issues or other factors explain the scale of the evacuation of Russians from that country. (HL1782)
Tabled on: 07 July 2021
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
The UK is concerned that humanitarian needs may be growing in North Korea. According to UN figures, 40% of North Korea’s population were food insecure in 2019. We assess that North Korea’s own restrictions at the border have prevented aid shipments from entering the country since January 2020, and that natural disasters last year may have reduced harvest yields. North Korea continues to claim that it has had zero cases of Covid-19.
We are unable to verify the humanitarian or Covid situations directly, because the border restrictions also forced the temporary closure of the British Embassy in Pyongyang in May 2020. Other Embassies have also closed or reduced their staff, and we understand the Russian Embassy sent some of its staff home in early July. All UN agencies and NGOs have also now withdrawn expatriate staff and ceased operations. We will work to restore the British Embassy presence in Pyongyang once it is safe and possible to do so, and encourage North Korea to allow entry for humanitarian workers to carry out an independent assessment of humanitarian needs, and to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.
Date and time of answer: 21 Jul 2021 at 17:42.