North Korea's military policy worries U.N.

Nov. 5, 2012 at 12:02 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The government of North Korea is called on to reconsider a "military-first policy" to address the living standards of its people, a U.N. official said.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on North Korea Marzuki Darusman said he was concerned leader Kim Jong Un has put military strength above all else in the country.

"I continue to be concerned with both the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country," he said in a statement. "Slow economic growth coupled with what is known as a 'military-first policy' will of course be detrimental to the welfare of the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

Darusman said more than 60 percent of the population in North Korea suffers from food insecurity and chronic malnutrition.

U.S. lawmakers early this year said Pyongyang has a history of human rights abuses that are often overshadowed by nuclear concerns.

Human Rights Watch has said as many as 200,000 people are in the North Korean prison system.

North Korean officials said at least 88 people died and 60,000 people were left homeless following flooding near Pyongyang and other areas during the summer. A deal for food assistance from the United States collapsed in April when Pyongyang reneged on a pledge to halt nuclear and long-range missile tests.

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