Thousands homeless in North Korea floods destroy houses, roads and crops
Children's Aid Direct has been working in North Korea since 1996 and has extensive experience and knowledge of South Pyongan and South Hamgyong. Aid workers assessing the situation on the ground are calling for immediate financial assistance so that they can provide emergency shelter and building materials as well as chlorine tablets and water containers to deliver safe water.
The Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee (FDRC) has reported that families in the worst hit area of Pukchong County were forced up into the mountains behind their homes within a matter of hours of the rains starting in early September. When they returned they found that everything they owned had been swept away: homes, clothing, food, personal belongings.
Entire rows of houses have been washed away, bridges are destroyed, green paddy fields have been filled with mud and livestock have been drowned. Rebecca Sirrel, Programmes Coordinator for Children's Aid Direct in North Korea reported back to the charity's HQ in Reading today and said: "Access to safe water is essential to stop the spread of water borne disease and shelter is vital to protect the thousands who have been made homeless. We want to start work on repairing houses and ensuring a safe supply of water as a priority. Our work in hospitals and baby homes can continue in the less affected areas but we must respond to the immediate needs of children and start to make longer-terms plans for the rehabilitation of whole communities."
North Korea has suffered a series of natural disasters and floods between 1995 and 1997 which have ruined harvests and exacerbated the decline in agricultural productivity leaving North Korea with severe food shortages. Health services and water quality have also been affected by lack of resources and children in particular suffer an increased risk of malnutrition and sickness. The latest flooding will increase the risk to children already vulnerable through illness and lack of food and it will take at least two years for crops to become harvestable again. Assistance from the international community is essential to help strengthen North Korea's economy and enable it to increase its ability to cope with natural disaster.
Children's Aid Direct, working in partnership with other agencies in the field, has identified two priority needs for the people of North Korea:
- Chlorine tablets and water containers for five families which would cost £25.00
- Plastic sheeting and shelter materials to protect families would cost £15.00 per family
Phone the Immediate Action Line to make a credit card donation on 08701 20 30 40 or send a cheque to Children's Aid Direct, 12 Portman Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG30 1EA.
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