North Korean children
Increasing numbers of children are risking their lives to escape worsening conditions in their homeland of North Korea, Release International has claimed.
The charity, which works through an international network of missions to help Christians throughout the world, said the consequences were often devastating.
Andy Dipper, of Release, gave the example of a 13-year-old North Korean orphan who had to have his feet amputated after escaping to China. He was found hiding in the mountains in freezing temperatures. His feet were so badly frost-bitten that he failed to wake up when his camp fire set his feet alight.
Mr Dipper said security along the North Korea-China border has tightened since the death of Kim Jong-il last December, and the Chinese authorities are reportedly stepping up their efforts to repatriate defectors, forcing even children into hiding.
Mr Dipper said, ‘Our concern is that the Chinese and North Korean authorities are working together to try to root out networks providing support for refugees fleeing to China’.
Release staged a funeral march for freedom to the North Korean embassy in London. It presented a 52,000 signature petition calling on the nation’s new leader Kim Jong-un to reverse North Korea’s reputation as one of the worst persecutors of Christians in the world.