Vulnerable children and elderly people in North Korea are at risk of starvation, a UN expert has said.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the country blamed worsening food shortages on international sanctions and a Covid blockade.
As a result, North Koreans struggle every day to “live a life of dignity,” according to Tomas Ojea Quintana.
He urged the lifting of sanctions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear programmes in order to avert a crisis.
North Korea is believed to be in dire financial straits.
It closed its borders in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. As a result, trade with China has plummeted. North Korea is entirely dependent on China for food, fertiliser, and fuel.
Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, admitted this week that the country was in a “grim situation,” according to the state news agency.
Food prices have reportedly risen, with NK News reporting in June that a kilogramme of bananas costs $45 (£32).
Mr Quintana stated in his most recent report that the UN Security Council should consider easing international sanctions and allowing “humanitarian and life-saving assistance.”
President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that the US is willing to talk to North Korea, but that Pyongyang must first give up its nuclear weapons before sanctions can be lifted. So far, North Korea has refused.
Earlier this week, Mr Kim blamed the US for stoking tensions, saying it needs to continue developing weapons for self-defence.
Despite its economic woes, North Korea has continued to build its weapons and missile arsenals.
It has recently tested what it claims to be new hypersonic and anti-aircraft missiles.