North Korean Refugees in the People's Republic of China
Prison in Tumen, near the border to North Korea. Among others, North Korean refugees are detained here until their deportation.
Since the beginning of the 1990s the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea suffers an increasing lack of adequate supply because of its centralised mismanagement. This resulted in one of the biggest famines of the 20th century. Between 1994 and 1998 about 2-3 million people died because of the consequences of malnutrition. People fled to China in order to find food and accommodation. Many tried to travel on to South Korea, to freedom. Humanitarian aid organisations speak of an estimated number of refugees of up to 300,000 per year.
Because of the 1968 agreement with Pyongyang, North Korean refugees are expelled by Chinese authorities. This exposes them to severe punishment and persecution in their home country. Those supporting "illegal" North Koreans in China are punished with high fines. Those denouncing North Korean refugees to state power, are rewarded. In the last years about 2,000 North Koreans have been expelled per month, more than 10,000 stay behind and live secretly in China. Many North Koreans only stay until they earned enough money to support their families back home. They even risk exploitation and slave work - and the possibility of being detained in a camp for fleeing from the "workers- and peasant paradise".
Please appeal to the government of the People's Republic of China to grant North Korean refugees protection in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Convention. Furthermore please appeal to not deport anybody but rather let them travel to the hosting country South Korea.