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Report: North Korea ships under Sierra Leone flag issued warning

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 25, 2016 at 11:08 PM
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SEOUL, March 25 (UPI) -- The government of Sierra Leone stated North Korean ships sailing under its flag have been issued a warning.

Sierra Leone's ministry of maritime affairs said the warning issued on March 17 was targeting the owners and managers of North Korean vessels operating under the Sierra Leone flag.

The warning was the result of European Union, U.N. and U.S. sanctions, the government said, according to Voice of America.

North Korean ships have been known to sail under foreign flags, in order to evade regulation.

The maritime ministry emphasized vessels of Sierra Leone nationality should be familiar with the sanctions list when entering foreign ports or registering ships.

Enforcement of the sanctions began early, when Philippine authorities seized and searched the Jin Teng, which was the target of a U.N.-backed asset freeze.

The Jin Teng was North Korea-operated, but was registered as belonging to Sierra Leone.

The Philippines then seized and searched a second vessel, the chemical tanker Theresa Begonia, which entered a port in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Oriental on March 10.

Authorities recently released the Jin Teng after it was removed from a blacklist under U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 2270.

Growing sanctions against Pyongyang, however, have not stopped humanitarian aid from entering the country.

The nonprofit Eugene Bell Foundation said that despite the tensions on the Korean peninsula, treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis have been successfully delivered to North Korea, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.

The Foundation plans to visit North Korea in April and May to assess the status of North Korean patients. The most recent aid package was approved after a hiatus due to North Korea's nuclear test and rocket launch.

There are 1,500 North Korean tuberculosis patients at risk, and the Foundation had requested the South Korean government for permission to distribute drugs across the border.

The South's Unification Ministry plans to allow other NGOs to allow aid into the country, South Korea press reported.

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