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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
N Korea food shortages 'critical'
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News at the UN, New York

Mealtime at a school in North Korea
North Koreans have been dependent on foreign aid for food
North Korean food shortages have grown worse after its recent nuclear test led donors to withdraw aid, the UN says.

The UN official monitoring human rights in North Korea, Vitit Muntarbhorn, said the food shortage was critical.

North Korea is already short of food and this year floods have damaged the harvest, making matters even worse.

President Kim Jong-Il's nuclear test has led to international condemnation of the secretive regime and sanctions against its nuclear programme.

Pyongyang was due to receive 100,000 tonnes of food aid but will now get less than that, Mr Muntarbhorn said.

"Matters became ultra-complicated because of the missile test in July as well as the nuclear test recently, which prodded various potential contributors to reconsider giving the aid," he said.

"So there has been this sad and regrettable linkage between the various tests and the impact on the food situation."

His report says there are major concerns about basic issues like the right to life, the right to food and freedom of expression and religion.

Although Mr Muntarbhorn credits the regime for reforming its criminal law, he says there are still what he calls many transgressions and discrepancies of an egregious nature when it comes to the fundamental rights of North Korea's people.

Why the nuclear test increased food shortages

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