NKorean refugees in China down sharply: report
Hunger and poverty drove many North Koreans to flee their homeland following famine in the mid- to late 1990s which killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Estimates vary widely but around 100,000 were thought to be hiding out in China in recent years.
"There has been no systematic survey since 2006 but the recent number of escapees from North Korea is believed to be 20,000 to 40,000," the institute said, without giving an earlier figure.
Based on a survey of defectors, the institute attributed the fall to tough and steady crackdowns by both China and North Korea in 2007 and last year.
Those refugees it catches China repatriates as economic migrants. Some travel on to Southeast Asian countries in the hope of eventual resettlement in South Korea.
North Korea has also tightened its own crackdown and punishment of refugees, the institute said, adding that the families of those who fled were often expelled to remote mountain areas.
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/27/2009 07:15:34
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