In a context in which the North Korean population is unvaccinated, and without adequate ventilators or other essential supplies, the risk of an unprecedented death toll is very high,” said Sauca. The COVID-19 outbreak greatly compounds the pre-existing humanitarian situation in North Korea particularly related to food insecurity in the country.”

The WCC therefore calls for an urgent humanitarian response by the international community commensurate with the gravity of the crisis, Sauca continued. ”In particular, newly developed antivirals, such as Paxlovid, must be provided as a matter of urgency, as well as diagnostics, ventilators, PPE, vaccines and other medical needs, as well as essential food supplies,” he said. We call for a centralized and coordinated approach to the international response, through the UN, and for any obstacles presented to this response by the current sanctions against the DPRK to be lifted as a matter of fundamental ethical and humanitarian responsibility.”

WCC statement on COVID-19 crisis in the DPRK