Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category

UN Says N. Korea’s Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Is Result of Isolation

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Voice of America

Decades after most countries signed on to global bans of highly toxic chemical agents, North Korea continues to make widespread use of them — putting its people and those of other countries at risk. The North’s self-imposed isolation has kept people there ignorant for decades of the dangers they face.  The United Nations is trying to remedy the problem.

United Nations officials say decades of isolating itself has left North Korea ignorant about some of the world’s most dangerous chemicals — and that it is taking a heavy toll.

Craig Boljkovac manages the chemical and waste program for  the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

“The environment-related problems that exist in North Korea, I just have to say right now, I think they’re much more serious than in many other countries in the world,” Boljkevac said.

A team of U.N. envoys managed by Boljkovac is in Pyongyang this week, teaching officials about decades-old global chemical bans Pyongyang ignored completely until just a few years ago.  The world body is especially concerned by North Korea’s use of two chemicals, known as DDT and PCBs.

DDT was once a widely used insecticide.  American soldiers even sprinkled it in their helmets to kill head lice during World War Two.  Adverse health effects caused it to be banned in most countries — but not North Korea.

“So today in the world, DDT is only allowed one use, and that’s to kill the mosquito that carries malaria… But turn the clock back 50 years, and you have North Korea,” Boljkevac said. “They use DDT for everything.”

PCBs are a cooling agent, once critical in power grids to help keep electrical circuits from overheating.  Other countries now use much safer chemical alternatives, but Boljkevac says his team has made some unsettling discoveries in the North.

“It looks like there is something on the order of 40,000 metric tons of PCBs in North Korea presently,” Boljkevac said. “And, all you need are a few molecules in your body to cause irreversible harm to your health, or that of your children.”

Boljkevac and his team were not allowed to make a visit to North Korea until 2005.  He was struck by the lack of otherwise common chemical knowledge there.

“The look and the feelings of surprise from the officials that we deal with in North Korea, when they realized how harmful these chemicals were — I witnessed them personally, myself,” Boljkevac said. “They were quite stunned.”

Boljkevac says women are especially vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals, because they can be stored in fatty tissue and mother’s milk.   He also says it is also impossible to confine the dangers of toxic chemical use to North Korean territory.

“North Korea’s problem with these chemicals is the world’s problem,” Boljkevac said. “Once they’re used and released into the environment, they travel all over the world.  North Koreans cannot travel outside their country very easily or frequently — these chemicals can, and do, on a daily basis.”

Boljkevac says North Korea is providing his teams with full access and cooperation.   He says his job is made easier by the fact that none of the chemicals he is seeking to eliminate have anything to do with weapons production.


DPRK diplomat defects from Ethiopian embassy

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

According to Yonhap:

A diplomat at the North Korean Embassy in Ethiopia defected to South Korea late last year after seeking asylum at the South Korean Embassy in the African country, an informed source said Tuesday.

The 40-year-old North Korean man, identified only by his surname of Kim, stormed into the South Korean embassy in October and spent several weeks there before arriving in Seoul in November, the source said, asking not to be identified.

The relationship between the DPRK and Ethiopia goes way back…to some dark days in Ethiopia’s history. 

Here are a few previous posts on the DPRK-Ethiopia relationship

Read the Yonhap story here:
N. Korean diplomat based in Ethiopia defects to S. Korea: source


North Korea medical team arrives in Ethiopia

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Ethiopian Review
Mehret Tesfaye

A medical team of Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) has arrived here on Tuesday to provide voluntary medical service for two years in Ethiopia, the Ministry of Health said.

Public Relations Directorate office of the Ministry told ENA on Wednesday that the 27 member medical team arrived here as per the agreement of Ethiopia and the DPRK to cooperate in the health sector.

State minister of health, Dr. Kebede Worku, welcomed the team upon its arrival at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

The office said 11 of the team members will be deployed to Oromia State while 10 to Tigray state and the remaining six to South Ethiopia Peoples’ State.

Another voluntary medical team comprising four members will also arrive here in the near future.

Dr. Kebede said the historical relation between the two countries is being strengthened.


DPRK relic in Ethiopia

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


The Dialachin Monument (a.k.a. Victory Monument, Derg Monument) was a gift from Pyongyang to Addis Ababa’s Derg regime in the 1970s.

You can see the location of the monument in Wikimapia here.

You can learn more about the Derg here.

See more photos of the monument here.

*This location will be added to the next version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth).  If readers are aware of other construction projects the DPRK has supported, please let me know.  I am especially interested in locating the North Korean restaurants in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.  Are there others?


Ethiopia Denies Shipment From Korea Violated Ban

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

New York Times
Michael R. Gordon

The Ethiopian government has denied that it violated United Nations sanctions by carrying out a secret purchase earlier this year of military equipment from North Korea.

The Central Intelligence Agency reported in late January that an Ethiopian-flagged ship had left a North Korean port and that its cargo probably included tank parts and other military cargo, according to American officials.

The purchase of tank parts would violate restrictions on dealings with North Korea imposed by the United Nations Security Council in a resolution adopted in October. The Security Council acted less than a week after North Korea tested a nuclear device.

The Bush administration decided not to press Ethiopia to reject the shipment, and the vessel was not inspected after it took its cargo to a port in Djibouti for overland transport to Ethiopia. Some American officials said the shipment was most likely a Security Council violation.

In a statement issued Friday, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry acknowledged that it had received a cargo shipment from North Korea on Jan. 22, but asserted that it did not include prohibited items like tank parts.

“This shipment contained spare parts for machinery and engineering equipment and raw material for the making of assorted ammunition for small arms,” the Ethiopian statement read. “The United States Embassy in Addis Ababa might have been aware of Ethiopia’s importation of the said cargo from North Korea. “However, the fact is that Ethiopia did not purchase arms or any other item covered by Resolution 1718 under the contractual agreements,” the statement read, referring to the Security Council measure. Ethiopia said the shipment was carried out under the terms of several contracts that were signed with North Korea in June and was paid for in advance.

The State Department has declined to comment on the details of this episode.

Ethiopia purchased $20 million worth of arms from North Korea in 2001, according to American estimates, and American officials say this pattern has continued. Ethiopia has an arsenal of Soviet T-55 tanks and other Soviet-style equipment. The United States has sought to persuade Ethiopia to wean itself from its longstanding reliance on North Korea for inexpensive Soviet-era military equipment.

The United States has had close ties with Ethiopia. American officials say that Ethiopia was provided with American intelligence about the location of Islamist forces before its recent offensive in neighboring Somalia. On Jan. 7, American AC-130 gunships launched two strikes on terrorist targets from an airstrip inside Ethiopia, according to American officials. Ethiopia has said such reports are a fabrication.

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