U.S. to North Korea: Release American Detainee

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The U.S.State Department called for the release of a Korean American detainee held in North Korea since November, according to the State Department's website.

AFP also reported that aid to the hermit state has been hit by sanctions placed against it, five United Nations agencies reported on Monday. Humanitarian operations are expected to be affected.

Here's a closer look at the current situation in North Korea.

U.S. demands release

During a Monday press briefing, a State Department spokesperson acknowledged that Kenneth Bae would be on trial in North Korea.

"You know the welfare of U.S. citizens is a critical and top priority for this department," Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said."We call on the D.P.R.K. to release Kenneth Bae immediately on humanitarian grounds. The Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang acts as our protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea, so we are in close coordination with representatives at the Embassy of Sweden, and we understand they were last able to visit this U.S. citizen on Friday, April 26th."

Ventrell noted that the U.S. was unaware whether there are any defense attorneys in North Korea and whether they would be able to help him in his trial.

U.N. agencies report "dire funding situation"

The five agencies, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA), jointly warned that the U.N.sanctions put in place to punish the state for its third nuclear weapons test were affecting humanitarian funding.

In a statement, the agencies said that "even though the imposed sanctions clearly exclude humanitarian assistance, a negative impact on the levels of humanitarian funding has been experienced," according to AFP.

"As a result of the persisting deficit, agencies are unable to respond effectively to the humanitarian needs out of which the most critical and life-saving ones urgently require $29.4 million," they said.

South Koreans evacuate Kaesong

The jointly run industrial park just inside the North Korea border saw 43 of the remaining 50 workers exit the state on early Tuesday, another AFP article reported.

Seven supervisors opted to stay behind to talk with North Korea regarding unresolved administrative issues. South Korea's Unification Ministry didn't say when they would return.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.

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