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North Korea says UN rights talk is political plot

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 22 Oct 2010 11:18 GMT
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. Click For Restrictions. http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
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* UN envoy: N.Korea must act to ensure people have food

* Envoy worried about underfunding of U.N. aid programs

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 22 (Reuters) - A North Korean envoy lashed out at the U.N. General Assembly&${esc.hash}39;s human rights committee on Friday, saying criticism of Pyongyang was a plot aimed at overthrowing the country&${esc.hash}39;s government.

North Korea&${esc.hash}39;s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Pak Tok Hun was responding to U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman&${esc.hash}39;s report to the committee.

In his latest report, Darusman said there was an urgent need for Pyongyang to take "immediate steps to ensure the enjoyment of the right to food, water, sanitation and health, and to allocate greater budgetary resources to that end."

Pak said Darusman&${esc.hash}39;s report, like the General Assembly&${esc.hash}39;s annual resolutions condemning the human rights situation in North Korea, was "a political plot fabricated by hostile forces in the attempt to isolate and stifle our system."

"The purpose is clear," he said. "The promotion and protection of human rights is only in words but in reality what they try to do is change the ideology and system of our country."

Darusman, an Indonesian, said reports from inside impoverished North Korea "indicate continued suffering of the people ... from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates and spiralling economic problems."

Pak did not touch on the specifics of Darusman&${esc.hash}39;s 19-page report but said his country was determined "in future to fully consolidate and develop our socialist system for promotion and protection of human rights in keeping with the aspirations of our people and the reality of our country."

LACK OF AID FUNDS

Darusman said he was alarmed by "critical shortages" of funds for most U.N. programs in North Korea, which he said are humanitarian and life-saving.

"I urge the international community not to constrain humanitarian aid on the basis of political and security concerns," he told the so-called Third Committee, which includes all 192 U.N. member states.

Darusman&${esc.hash}39;s report said only 20 percent of the required ${esc.dollar}492 million in aid needed for U.N. humanitarian aid programs in 2009 was mobilized. As a result, it said, some needy North Koreans are no longer receiving international aid.

The United States and other donor nations have been reluctant to provide funds for North Korea because of concerns that the aid will be siphoned off by the military elite.

U.S. special envoy for human rights in North Korea Robert King told the committee that Washington would like to hear more from Darusman about what the donor community can do to ensure that aid reaches the North Koreans who need it.

Darusman added that he hoped North Korea would allow him to visit the country to observe the situation there first-hand. Pyongyang had refused to issue his predecessor a visa.

North Korea is under U.N. Security Council sanctions for its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. (Editing by Xavier Briand)

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