Coronavirus: Red Cross Gets Sanctions Exemption for North Korea Virus Aid

febr 24 2020

Geneva: The Red Cross said on Monday it had obtained an exemption to United Nations sanctions against North Korea to provide testing kits and medical equipment against a possible coronavirus outbreak. "The potential for an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea poses a threat to millions of people who are already in need of humanitarian assistance," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.

IFRC's Asia Pacific chief Xavier Castellanos was quoted as saying that the sanctions exemption was "a life-saving intervention and an important measure to ensure that sanctions do not bear a negative impact on the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." "We know that there is urgent need of personal protective gear and testing kits, items vital to prepare for a possible outbreak," he said in the statement.

The exemption was granted by the United Nations Sanctions Committee after the US said last week that it would look positively at requests for sending assistance. Analysts say North Korea's self-imposed isolation in the face of the coronavirus epidemic raging in neighbouring China is its only method of protection from an outbreak that would wreak havoc given its crumbling health system.