Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Slow Starvation in North Korea

North Korean refugees are a result of a bankrupt country, a sinister society: they talk of hospitals without heat, of ghost cities without electricity where "we cannot even see if someone is dying next to us," and where water is contaminated, of girls who sell themselves to Chinese women traders and end up in brothels.

The most desperate eat tree bark, leaves and grass, which are hard to digest and cause intestinal problems and internal hemorrhage.

With broken words and mimicking punches, a North Korean child tells us that young prisoners are beaten. "The strongest steal from the others" he says.

These testimonies confirm the bleak picture drawn by German Doctor Norbert Vollertsen, a member of the organization Cap Anamur, who was deported from the DPRK in December 2000 for denouncing the daily violations of human rights.

They also confirm suspicions that a portion of the foreign food aid does not make its way to the segments of population most threatened. In the course of the past two years, some humanitarian organizations (Doctors without Borders and Action Contre la Faim, among others) left the DPRK because they estimated that they could not control the aid that they were contributing.

According to Dr. Vollertsen, the scenes he has seen in the hospitals (including surgery without anesthesia) convinced him that "foreign aid is not used to save the lives that it should."

[Excerpt of an article by Philippe Pons, Le Monde]

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