In the News – U.S. urged to link N. Korean defectors’ fate with food aid

In the News – U.S. urged to link N. Korean defectors’ fate with food aid

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Yonhap) — The Barack Obama administration should tie any food aid to North Korea with its handling of defectors fleeing their totalitarian and hunger-stricken homeland, a U.S. congressman said Monday.

“It’s unclear whether or not the Obama Administration’s food aid to North Korea – some 240,000 metric tons per year – contains any conditions or links to the refugees. It should,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who chairs the Congressional Executive Commission on China, said at a hearing on China’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors.

He was referring to Washington’s agreement to ship 240,000 tons of what it calls nutritional assistance to the North in exchange for freezing some nuclear activities.

A growing number of North Koreans are seeking to defect, mainly through China, which shares a porous border with their nation.

China, a key communist ally of the North, has a firm policy of repatriating them.

The North Korean defector issue has drawn keen international concern again following reports that around 30 North Koreans were caught by Chinese authorities and face severe punishment in the North.

“Forced repatriation by China of North Koreans isn’t new. But that doesn’t make what is about to happen to dozens of new victims any less offensive,” Smith said.

“The international community – especially the United Nations, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress – must insist that China at long last honor its treaty obligations, end its egregious practice of systematic refoulment, or be exposed as hypocrites,” he said.

Original article can be found here

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