UN rights council seeks access for aid agencies to NKorea

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The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday urged North Korea to allow relief agencies to have unimpeded access, as it voiced alarm at the "precarious humanitarian situation" in the Stalinist state.

Thirty countries on the 47-member council voted for the resolution tabled by the European Union and Japan that also extended the mandate of a UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, and called on Pyongyang to grant him access to the country.

Three countries -- China, Cuba and Russia -- voted against and 11 abstained.

The resolution urged the North Korean leadership to "ensure full, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance that is delivered on the basis of need, in accordance with humanitarian principles, coupled with adequate monitoring."

Cuba, which called for a vote on the issue, dismissed the resolution as "politically motivated against the DPRK."

"It is a denial of the right to self determination of the North Korean people," its envoy added.

China also opposed the resolution, saying Beijing is against "exerting pressure on specific country issues" as it only served to complicate the situation.

North Korea meanwhile angrily rejected the resolution, dismissing it as "complete lies and fabrications," and "politically motivated."

North Korea will "hold fast to the socialist system, the cradle of life and guarantee of happiness for our people," said the envoy.

Darusman told the council last week that the international community should provide relief aid to the impoverished communist state, saying that support should not be dependent on political conditions.

However, the special rapporteur also stressed that with any help should come with a requirement for access.

© 2011 AFP

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