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Stunted growth, acute anemia persists in North Korean children, says report

Children in North Korea are three times more likely to be developmentally challenged than in neighboring China and Mongolia.

By Elizabeth Shim
Stunted growth, acute anemia persists in North Korean children, says report
A North Korean sheep herder watches his flock near the North Korean city Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea on May 29, 2015. Malnutrition persists in the country and among children under the age of five, 28 percent are afflicted by stunted growth and 4 percent are underweight, according to a recent report. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- One out of four North Korean children suffer from acute anemia, according to a recent report from the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

The IFPRI's Global Nutrition Report stated the chronic condition persists among North Korean minors and that the rate at which anemia has declined in the population has slowed, Radio Free Asia reported on Friday.

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Among children under the age of five, 28 percent are afflicted by stunted growth as a result of malnutrition and 4 percent are underweight. In North Korea, compared to developing countries China and Mongolia, children are three times more likely to be developmentally challenged, according to the report.

Despite setbacks, the nutritional status of North Korean children has improved since the last survey in 2009, and the rate at which stunted growth was being eradicated indicated progress, according to Radio Free Asia. Obesity increased slightly, from 1.4 to 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2015 for boys and from 2.8 to 3.1 percent for girls.

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The ongoing issue of malnutrition in North Korea indicates people are facing challenges in realizing their access to adequate food, a human right protected under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. North Korea, however, denounced South Korea's parliament on Friday for its plans to pass the North Korea Human Rights Act, South Korean outlet CBS No Cut News reported.

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"The ruse to pass a North Korean human rights law in South Korea's National Assembly will not stop our rising anger," said a North Korean spokesperson for the Korean Democratic Lawyers Organization.

Pyongyang said the bill is a political provocation and a violent affront to North Korea's sovereignty, and that South Korea's parliament gathered data on North Korea human rights based on "slander and false testimonies" from defectors.

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North Korea has said it guarantees "true freedom and rights" to its people, but defectors in South Korea have refuted such claims.

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