DPRK is vulnerable to different kinds of natural disasters, and is in the process of setting up and improving early warning systems and disaster preparedness activities. Proper assessment of the overall situation in the country for the entire population and particularly the most vulnerable groups remains a main challenge, as international organizations do not have permission to access certain areas.
The food security situation has further deteriorated, but the absence of significant reliable statistics makes a proper assessment of the situation very difficult. A similar tendency in the health situation is noted; many clinics are in urgent need of rehabilitation, and turnover of distributed drugs is higher than before. Meanwhile, the plan to reduce drugs distribution through the Red Cross and resume this responsibility under the country’s ministry of health began this year, with the procurement and distribution of essential drugs reduced from every quarter to three times a year. In water and sanitation, the programme was able to implement its activities in 9 out of 15 communities as planned. In the remaining 6 communities, preparatory activities has started or will start soon in the third quarter of 2012, as a result of delayed incoming funds.
After the sudden and unexpected passing of the leader of the DPRK in December, his son assumed the reins of power. The first six months of 2012 have been a period of watching and waiting to see how he will consolidate his position as leader of the country. So far, the transition has been very smooth.
DPRK faced several disasters in the first two quarters of 2012. In April/May the entire country a draught that resulted in the fear of a massive decline in crop yield. In the middle of June, a flash flood took communities by surprise and displaced about 3,000 people in Tokson and Sinhung counties and damaged crops and infrastructures. Following this, a further series of flooding displaced approximately 154,000 people. The DPRK Red Cross Society (DPRK RCS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) provided relief assistance to about 9,000 families (40,000 people) in coordination with other agencies and the government.
As a result, a substantial amount of time and resources were diverted to respond to the emergency situation. DPRK RCS has disaster preparedness stocks for up to 22,000 families, strategically located in seven warehouses throughout the country, ready for immediate deployment.While the situation remains tense on the Korean peninsula, no serious incidents have occurred during the first half of 2012, and relations with Japan have improved.
DPRK RCS has received consistent support over the last decade from IFRC, its sister Red Cross Red Crescent societies who function under the umbrella of the cooperation agreement strategy (CAS) and their donor governments, as well as from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The need for humanitarian support through the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other international organizations is still acute, particularly in the areas of food, health, water and sanitation and disaster management.