In China, the epicenter of the new strain of the coronavirus, a powerful movement restriction policy has been implemented, with public transportation temporarily suspended and cities blocked.
China borders North Korea, which is the main route for North Koreans to defect. In order to defect from North Korea by land, there is no choice but to head to China. However, China is using its official power to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees.
So many North Korean defectors are not reassured even if they cross the Yalu River and escape from the North. The unrest continues until it reaches "third countries" such as South Korea from China, and they are moving in secret to avoid being caught by local police.
To North Korean defectors in China whom should migrate immediately, 'new coronavirus' is becoming another disaster. North Korean human rights activists gathered their mouths and asked for prayers, saying North Korean defectors in China are in a difficult position due to the incident.
Kim Sung-eun, a pastor at the Kaleb Sun Church, said, "The civil and military are blocking the movement in China in general. "As North Korean defectors live in places because they can't move," he said. "That's why the food and clothing issue is a necessary reality right now."
"We hope that North Korean defectors in China will pray so that everything necessary for their lives can be supported while the Wuhan pneumonia recede from their safe houses," Kim said on his SNS.
"All means of transportation and city inspections in China have been tightened," said Pastor Jeong Peter of the North Korean Justice Union, who is working to rescue North Korean defectors. Even rural village entrance was shut down, all activities of North Korean women from escaping was suspended," he said.
Local activist groups protecting North Korean defectors are facing growing difficulties, with the need to keep them safe until the incident ends.
Pastor Kim Kyu-ho (a permanent representative of the Sunmin Network) said, "North Korean defectors in China cannot receive proper treatment because of their status as refugees or illegal aliens. I am worried that being under a concealed place they may be affected by the incident," he said. "So, it is more urgent to revise the law on the protection of North Korean defectors."
Revising the law, Kim said, should provide a system for local embassies to actively move when urgent relief situations arise in third countries.