The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has provided food assistance to over 140,000 North Koreans affected by recent flooding in the northeast of the country, according to a press release on Tuesday.
Flooding and heavy rains caused by a typhoon in late August have continued into September, further exacerbating the number of civilians displaced and without basic provisions.
“To meet food needs, WFP immediately distributed an emergency food ration of fortified biscuits, for seven days, and soybeans, enough for 30 days, to reach 44,000 people,” the WFP press release read.
“Following an inter-agency assessment of the affected areas, WFP rapidly distributed the same emergency ration to reach an additional 96,000 people,” it added.
The WFP also said it was concerned about the “continued vulnerability” of the affected population due to the approaching winter and food shortages in the country.
“The North of the country will shortly see the onset of a typically severe winter when temperatures can plunge below -25° C. These families need continued support to get through the worst of the winter,” the press release quoted Darlene Tymo, the WFP’s Representative and Country Director in DPRK, as saying.
North Korea state media and UN bodies have been continually updating the numbers of killed, displaced and affected since the flooding began.
On September 11 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published figures that put the death toll at 133, while it said that up to 107,000 had been displaced so far.
“More than 35,500 houses have been damaged, 69 percent of which have been completed destroyed, and a further 8,700 buildings, including schools and public buildings, have been damaged,” the OCHA said on Sunday.
In the release, the WFP also issued an urgent request for USD$1.2 million to allow them to continue providing immediate support for flood victims, adding that it requires a further USD$21 million until August 2017 for its DPRK programme.
UN bodies in-country have been affected in recent years by shortfalls in funding, likely due to donor fatigue, which may be high currently given North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Greg Scarlatoiu, told NK News on Tuesday that the North Korean government’s choice to spend heavily on its illicit programmes, which have come at a large humanitarian cost to its people, has made it hard to argue in favor of disbursing humanitarian aid in the country.
“That said, whenever dealing with a humanitarian emergency triggered by a natural disaster, given the urgency of the crisis, the disbursement of humanitarian assistance is more likely to proceed, in this case despite grave and fully justified concerns related to the Kim regime’s notorious diversion of funds and resources toward nukes, missiles, and other tasks it perceives as critical to its survival,” he added.
North Korea also announced earlier this week that it would be diverting resources and manpower to the region from the projects prioritized in the current 200-day labor campaign underway since June.
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Featured Image: Flood by ddqhu on 2007-09-10 07:03:26