Freight trains between North Korea and China suspended due to Covid-19
A South Korean media agency said today that freight train services between China and North Korea have been suspended. The agency said services were suspended due to Covid-19 infections in the Chinese border city of Dandong. Meanwhile, South Korean authorities say they are keeping an eye on the situation.
An official from South Korea’s unification ministry said the government is “closely monitoring” possible changes following the Covid-19 situation in Dandong. This news comes after North Korea reopened its border with China in January this year, after two years of a strict lockdown. International aid groups say the strict lockdowns made North Korea’s and threatened food supplies to millions.
When the border had reopened in January, UN organisations said some humanitarian aid was trickling back into North Korea. They added, however, that shipments of key supplies including food was still blocked. China makes up more than 90% of North Korean trade, and most of it goes through Dandong.
In 2020 North Korea shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned foreign tourists altogether, and mobilised health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms, describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence”.
North Korea is infamous as a highly authoritarian country, and Human Rights Watch reported earlier this year that the country’s unnecessary and extreme restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic helped tighten government control while creating a humanitarian crisis.
SOURCE: Reuters | NBC | Reuters | Nikkei Asia | Human Rights Watch
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