One Way Tickets
Human Rights Council calls on governments to cease automatic repatriation of North Korean refugees
Not as plentiful as they were during the Korean War in the 1950’s, Korea’s refugees still face enormous challenges
The number of people fleeing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has risen in recent years, according to MarzukiDarusman, who serves as Special Rapporteur to North Korea for the Human Rights Council. Perhaps more disturbingly, the number of refugees seeking asylum in neighboring countries being repatriated against their will has also risen, leading to unsafe living conditions for many attempted defectors.
“The International community should be vigilant on this and that is to separate the humanitarian issue to any political considerations of addressing a population that is known to be in chronic need for continuous assistance, year in year out, because of the short coming of that system, which is basically incapable of feeding its own people,” Mr. Darusman announced in a statement to the media on Monday.
Mr. Darusman, who was forced to accumulate his research in neighboring countries because he was barred from entering North Korea, made the case that because conditions in the nation can be characterized as oppressive both economically and politically, refugees should be identified as asylum seekers, and treated with the rights and privileges that come along with that.This means that they should not be unilaterally returned home, and that each individual should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
“In some cases there have been incidents of people being repatriated by the authorities on the border and this is a matter of great concern for the international community and also for the United Nations,” he said.“In terms of principles of non-refoulement, it requires that people seeking refuge in other countries are not forcibly repatriated to their countries of origin, against their will.”
This report comes amid an apparent thaw between North Korea and western nations, as Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader since the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December, agreed to a freeze of the country’s nuclear program in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid to be donated by the United States. The deal offered a sign of hope for the normalization of relations between North Korea and the West, which have ranged from simmering mutual hostility to outright crisis for decades.