Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Floods - Information Bulletin n° 1

The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.

In Brief

This Information Bulletin (no. 01/2005) is being issued for information only. Allocation from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund is being contemplated to support the national society in replenishment of stock.

The Situation

A reported total of 3,105 families (approximately 16,093 people) in South Pyongan province are in need of relief assistance after torrential rains accompanied by hail and strong winds swept across the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday, 30 June. Heavy rainfall reaching rates as high as 150 mm an hour pounded South Pyongan province for several hours causing flash floods and landslides in Dokchon city, Pukchang county and Maengsan county destroying and seriously damaging many homes in the areas. Families who have lost their homes due to the landslides have been taken in by relatives or are being housed in public buildings. Immediate needs for food, water, clothes etc. are being met by the local authorities with the help of DPRK Red Cross volunteers and others.

Many local residents were evacuated in the middle of the night following information received through the area's early warning system. Nevertheless, the severity of the floods led to 88 reported casualties; 205 reported injuries and some 105 people still missing. According to the latest reports, some 3,105 families were seriously affected by the disaster with their homes entirely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable . They lost all of or a substantial amount of their personal belongings. At the same time an additional 1,800 families have been affected to varying lesser degrees by the floods.

Natural disasters pose a significant threat to DPRK. Damage caused by flooding in DPRK combined with damage related to droughts and slope erosion can result in economic losses in the country amounting to anywhere between one and 15 billion US dollars every year.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The DPRK Red Cross was quick to respond with the society's headquarters immediately deploying a disaster response team upon the receipt of the first reports of the floods. At the same time, DPRK Red Cross branches based in the affected area mobilized 700 Red Cross volunteers to support relief activities within 24 hours of the disaster.

The DPRK Red Cross disaster management department, formed in the mid 1990's, has over the past decade worked closely with the Federation secretariat on developing its capacity for disaster response. At the end of 2004, the society introduced national disaster response teams into its range of activities with 28 DPRK Red Cross staff from around the country receiving training in emergency response skills. These trained staff members are now regarded as the core of the respective teams. A needs assessment was performed in close cooperation with the disaster management staff from the South Pyongan provincial branch and the city branches.

Based on the findings of the assessment team and following discussions with the Federation country delegation, priority for Red Cross assistance is being given to the 3,105 families who were most severely affected by the floods. Each family member will receive 1 blanket while each family is being provided with 1 kitchen set, 1 plastic sheet, 1 jerry can and water purification tablets. Blankets, kitchen sets and plastic sheets will provide families with immediate items which they can sleep on and cook with. Access to clean water in the aftermath of floods is a high priority. Therefore, jerry cans and water purification tablets are being distributed to ensure that the affected people have sufficient amount of clean water. This is particularly pertinent as temperatures in the floodaffected areas are currently quite high.

On Monday 4 July, relief items were released from the DPRK Red Cross disaster preparedness centre in Huichong city. The Federation delegation is assisting the DPRK Red Cross with the transport and distribution of the items. Five Red Cross trucks are transporting items to Red Cross branches in Dokchon city, Pukchang county and Maengsan county where a total of 16,093 blankets, 3,105 kitchen sets, 3,105 plastic sheets, 3,105 jerry cans, and water purification tablets will be distributed to flood-affected families in three areas, as follows:

DPRK Red Cross/Federati on South Pyongan Flood response
No. of Families
Dokchon city
Pukchang county
Maengsan county

The Federation logistics coordinator in DPRK and the director of the DPRK Red Cross logistics department will visit the distribution sites over the next two days.

One of the DPRK Red Cross strengths is the society's maintenance of sufficiently stocked disaster preparedness centres which allow the society to quickly provide rapid assistance to victims of sudden onset disasters such as flash floods or as in Ryongchon following the train explosion. The distribution of the items to the flood-affected will deplete the society's available stock by 25 per cent with no surplus stock currently available for replenishment. As this is only the beginning of DPRK's flood season, the Federation country delegation and the DPRK Red Cross are concerned that the remaining stock in the disaster preparedness centres cannot meet all of the needs that are expected to arise over the coming months.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In DPRK: DPRK Red Cross; Mr. Choe Jung Gang, Head of the International Department; phone+ 850 23814350; Fax +850 23813490

In DPRK: Mr. Jaap Timmer, head of DPRK regional delegation, Pyongyang; email: ifrckp02@ifrc.org; phone: +850.2.3814350; fax: +850.2.3813490.

In Geneva: Asia and Pacific department, Ms. Ewa Eriksson, East Asia regional officer, email: ewa.eriksson@ifrc.org; phone: +41.22.7304252; fax: +41.22.7330395.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

Map: Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Floods