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Exclusive: Russia, China tells U.N. they sent home over half North Korean workers in 2018



UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia sent home nearly two-thirds of some 30,000 North Koreans working there during 2018 and China repatriated more than half, but did not specify a figure, according to unpublished reports by Moscow and Beijing to the United Nations Security Council.

The North Korea flag flutters next to the concertina wire at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 9, 2017. REUTERS / Edgar Su

The one-page reports, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, were submitted to the council's North Korea sanctions committee in line with a 2017 resolution that demanded the repatriation of all North Korean workers by the end of this year to stop them earning foreign currency for Kim Jong Un's authorities.

The United States has said it believed Pyongyang was earning more than $ 500 million a year from nearly 100,000 workers abroad, of which some 80,000 were in China and 30,000 in Russia.

The U.N. The Security Council has steadily toughened sanctions on North Korea since 2006 for choking off funding for Pyongyang's nuclear and balistic missile programs. U.S. Pat. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met twice in the past year in a bid to negotiate denuclearization.

The December 2017 U.N. This is a month for all North Korean workers repatriated during 2018, including an explanation of why less than half of such workers were repatriated if applicable.

Russia reported that in 2018 the number of North Koreans "with valid work permits in the Russian Federation has decreased from 30,023 to 11,490 persons." Key North Korean ally China said it had repatriated "more than half of all DPRK citizens earning income . "

" China will continue to carry out its repatriation work in a orderly manner and complete repatriation on time ", wrote China's mission to the United Nations, adding that it did not want the report to be made public.

In 2015, U.N. human rights investigator Marzuki Darusman said that North Koreans abroad worked mainly in mining, logging, textiles and construction. The reports submitted by Russia and China to the Sanctions Committee did not specify what industries had employed the North Koreans.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report in 2017 that "the treatment of North Korean workers overseas falls short of international labor standards, with no right to freedom of association or expression, access to information from the outside world, long working hours and no right to refuse overtime. "

North Korea has said its laborers have been working legally and were not mistreated or forced to go.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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