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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Korea faces a growing food crisis that has left children and elderly people at risk of starvation, a UN investigator said in a report out Wednesday.

Driving the news: Prolonged and strict measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 have worsened conditions in the isolated Asian nation and have lead to "severe economic hardship," per the report.

  • North Korea has enforced aggressive measures, including a full-scale border shutdown and restricting imports of nonessential goods, the report states.
  • Over 40% of the population was already "food insecure" before the pandemic, and a large majority of those people were suffering from malnutrition.

What they're saying: "The COVID-19 restrictions and government vigilance against the pandemic have helped avert a possible health crisis," the report states.

  • "At the same time, prolonged isolation and border closures have resulted in food and other health problems and severe economic deprivation for many people across the country," it added.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 13, 2022 - World

U.S. presses UN to hit North Korea with more sanctions over missile tests

A broadcast reports on North Korea's Kim Jong-un at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on North Korean and Russian individuals and entities for supporting North Korea's ballistic missile program.

Driving the news: The announcement follows North Korea's two missile tests in the past week and leader Kim Jong-un's threat to bolster the country's nuclear weapons program.

Jan 13, 2022 - World

UN agency official warns Afghanistan is facing "tsunami of hunger"

People at a vegetable market in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan faces a "tsunami of hunger," Mary-Ellen McGroarty, a senior official at the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), warned Thursday in an interview with AP.

Driving the news: More than 22 million people in Afghanistan face food shortages and more than 8 million people in Afghanistan are close to starvation, per AP.

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require vaccine or test for indoor dining

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures here remain.