600,000 People Affected by Floods in North Korea

Children in Hoeryong City, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), observe the UN inter-agency assessment mission that evaluated the needs of people affected by floods in September 2016. Photo: UNICEF/Murat Sahin
Children in Hoeryong City, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), observe the UN inter-agency assessment mission that evaluated the needs of people affected by floods in September 2016. Photo: UNICEF/Murat Sahin

After disastrous flooding in North Korea in August and September left tens of thousands of children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, a second wave of danger looms with winter approaching.

Nearly 70,000 people are homeless and another 600,000 people are in need of help because of the floods, which have so far killed more than 130 people. Without more urgent assistance, warn UNICEF and Save the Children, children are likely to endure even more suffering.

“Come the end of October we’re likely to see sub-zero temperatures and snowfall as winter sets in, and winter can be extremely long and bitter here,” Save the Children program director in North Korea, Paolo Fattori said from Pyongyang.

“The situation right now is urgent and on an enormous scale not seen here in decades. That’s why we need the international community to step up and immediately increase funding for this emergency response. There can be no delay.”

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Humanitarian agencies are calling for US$28.2m in funding to meet the immediate and long-term needs of flood victims in North Korea. This includes repairing broken water systems and distributing basic items like food, hygiene kits and temporary shelter.

“Thousands of children are suffering and the impending winter will trigger a second disaster if we do not increase assistance for children and families,” UNICEF DPR Korea representative Oyunsaihan Dendevnorov said. “They have lost everything: clean water, food, medicine and shelter. Without more attention, the suffering of children will only get worse.”

Both Save the Children and UNICEF immediately responded to the flooding and have delivered aid including emergency shelters, water purification tablets and hygiene kits, as well another life-saving items and activities. However, both agencies say much more will be needed.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman