Thursday, March 31, 2011

China boosts border security over fears of North Korean famine

China is reinforcing fences and has stepped up patrols along its border with North Korea as fears mount of a catastrophic famine in the secretive state.

Fences more than 13ft high, topped with barbed wire, are now being erected along an eight-mile stretch of the Yalu river around the Chinese city of Dandong. This is a popular entry point for North Korea refugees seeking food or better lives.

Previously the border was only marked by a 10ft fence which "anybody could cross if they really wanted", a resident added.

Fears for the stability of North Korea have increased in recent weeks with reports of a growing food crisis following the severest winter in 60 years and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that has affected the oxen that are still used to plough fields.

Foreign aid agencies based in Pyongyang issued a joint statement warning that six million North Koreans need urgent food aid because crops of potatoes, wheat and barley have all failed.

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