A staff member of State Commission of Quality Management in protective gear carries a disinfectant spray can at the Pyongyang Airport in Pyongyang, N.Korea. File/AP
A UN spokesman said the world body in North Korea has been left with no international staff, who are now working remotely.
Despite claiming to be coronavirus free, North Korea has sealed off its borders as part of stringent anti-pandemic measures that also involved the departure of diplomats and foreign nationals.
Earlier this week, the last remaining two international UN staffers, both with the World Food Program, reportedly left Pyongyang.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday in New York that the UN office remains open and functioning, and continues to work remotely for the benefit of the people of North Korea along with local staff.
Dujarric said that after more than a year in North Korea, UN international staff had traveled home to visit their families and they are expected to return to Pyongyang as soon as the pandemic-related border closure is lifted for UN employees.
Dujarric said that WFP operations will be handled by local staff in Pyongyang and international staff working remotely.
Several UN agencies including WFP, WHO and UNICEF have offices in North Korea. But it’s not clear how soon their international employees can return.
Experts question North Korea’s claim of zero cases. North Korea, whose public health care system remains in shambles, would be at risk of a humanitarian crisis if there is a major outbreak.
An international health group established to promote global access to coronavirus vaccines said last month that North Korea could potentially receive 1.9 million doses of vaccines manufactured in India during the first half of the year. North Korea has about 26 million people.
“The UN is working with the government in support of a COVAX vaccination campaign and hopes it will provide an opportunity for staff to return and to scale up our support,” Dujarric said.
The pandemic border shutdown that has sharply shrunk North Korea’s external trade is a major blow to its fragile economy, along with UN sanctions and crops-killing natural disasters last year.
“The strict COVID prevention measures have impacted humanitarian operations in (North Korea), causing reduced operational capacity, stock out of essential humanitarian supplies, and delayed delivery of humanitarian program,” Dujarric said.
North Korea has asked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deal with the “illegal” seizure of one of its cargo ships by the United States, state media said on Saturday. “This act of dispossession has clearly indicated that the United States
North Koreans are forced to pay bribes to officials to survive in their isolated country, where corruption is “endemic” and repression rife, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday.
Last week, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in a defiance of UN resolutions that ban such launches by North Korea. The UN Security Council subsequently adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of UN experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea.
The panel of experts monitoring sanctions on the reclusive northeast Asian nation said in a report sent to Security Council members on Monday that Kim Jong Un’s government has also produced fissile material — an essential ingredient for producing nuclear weapons —
The shooters claimed that the woman wanted to marry her cousin Waqas, brother of Abbas, who was living in Italy but her brother opposed it. According to the report, the brother wanted her sister to marry a well-educated person, but she refused.
Several infrastructure projects and emissions from nearby refineries were the possible reasons, said a government official who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
"I think it's very exciting that the UAE, an OPEC member, is going to host COP28, and it's so important that you have an oil and gas producing nation step up and say we understand the challenge of the climate crisis,” Kerry told Reuters in an interview.