Korea Peace Now, an international group dedicated to the cause of ending the Korean war, released a report on the impact of sanctions on North Korea. The report found that there were at least 3,968 preventable deaths attributed to sanctions in 2018. 3,193 of those deaths were children under the age of five, and 72 of the deaths were pregnant women.
The report says the deaths were due to “delays and funding shortfalls affecting UN programmes that address severe acute malnutrition, basic essential drugs, vitamin A, WaSH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), and emergency reproductive health kits.”
The report points out that while the sanctions are intended to affect North Korea’s government and military, they have evolved in recent years and are having a devastating impact on the country’s population.
In 2016, the UN Security Council started sanctioning entire sectors of North Korea’s economy, in response to a nuclear test. These sanctions banned most exports and cut-off any external revenue for the country. Sanctions have also impacted agricultural production by banning the import of fuel and certain machinery.
Health facilities in North Korea lack certain medical equipment due to sanctions. The report has a list of “humanitarian sensitive items” that are banned. The list includes sterilizers, ambulances, ultrasound and cardiograph machines, syringes, needles, catheters, and X-ray machines.
The report also focused on the impact these sanctions have on women in North Korea and found that they are disproportionately affected.
The report calls on the UN Security Council, and any UN member states that impose sanctions on North Korea to “lift all sanctions that are in violation of international law.” The report also calls on the government of North Korea to “Resolve the security crisis that led to the current situation in accordance with international law.”
Sanctions relief has been a major demand and a top priority for North Korea in recent talks with the Trump administration. Those talks broke down in early October, and North Korea gave the US the end of this year as a deadline to change their approach.