IFRC launches emergency appeal to support flood-hit communities in DPRK

News and Press Release
Originally published

21 September, 2016 – Beijing / Kuala Lumpur - Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a 15.2 million Swiss Franc emergency appeal (USD 15.5 million, Euros 13.9 million) to reach more than 163,000 people affected by the destructive floods that struck the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) three weeks ago.

The floods were caused by heavy rains from Typhoon Lionrock which merged with another low pressure weather system. At least 600,000 people have been affected across six counties in the province of North Hamgyong in the northeast of the country. Approximately 30,000 homes have been damaged, submerged or completely destroyed and close to 70,000 people remain displaced. Little help has reached some areas, particularly in Musan and Yonsa counties, due to landslides and damage to roads and transport links.

The IFRC appeal aims to provide a variety of emergency assistance over the next 12 months including relief items that include tents, tarpaulins and toolkits for building emergency shelters; kitchen sets and bedding; emergency water supply and education around maintaining good hygiene to prevent communicable diseases;; support and medical supplies for health teams on the ground and technical support to help with the reconstruction of permanent homes.

Chris Staines, head of delegation with the IFRC in Pyongyang, was part of an assessment team that recently visited Hoeryong City, which received 208 mm of rain over the course of three days.

“Nearby villages had been decimated by the floods. People were surviving amidst the devastation in flimsy shelters made of plastic sheeting strung across a few bits of wood. They were left with virtually nothing”.

78 per cent of the population of North Hamgyong Province relies upon the countries’ Public Distribution System for their food needs but before the floods struck, people were only receiving half of the recommended daily ration.

“People were vulnerable before this disaster but now they are in danger of reaching tipping point,” said Staines. “Crops, kitchen gardens and livestock which sustained them over the winter are gone, thousands are homeless, safe water supply has been disrupted and health services compromised. Winter is on our doorstep and when you add up the impact of the floods and the risks people now face, we could see a secondary disaster here in the months ahead if the right level of support isn’t mobilized immediately”.

Winter temperatures in Hamgyong can plunge to minus 30 degrees so the IFRC emergency appeal will also be used to purchase winterisation kits that will help 7,000 families (28,000 people) through the coming five months. These include supplies of coal for heating and cooking, personal hygiene items, winter clothes and quilts, basic food stocks and water purification tablets.

Since the floods began on August 31st, over 1,700 DPRK Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to North Hamgyong to assist with relief efforts. Essential relief items sufficient for 28,000 people have been released from Red Cross disaster preparedness stocks in South Hamgyong and Pyongyang and distributed to people affected by the floods.

Notes for editors:

Photographs of the impact of the floods in North Hamgyong Province are available on the IFRC’s image library here

Online donations to the IFRC’s emergency appeal can be made here; https://www.ammado.com/community/dprk-flood/

For further information, contact:

In Kuala Lumpur:
Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Mobile : +60 122 308 451 E-mail : patrick.fuller@ifrc.org

In Beijing:
Hler Gudjonsson, communications delegate for East Asia, IFRC
Mobile: +86 139 10096892 E-mail: hler.gudjonsson@ifrc.org

In Geneva:
Benoit Carpentier, Team leader, public communications, IFRC
Mobile: +41792132413 E-mail: Benoit.Carpentier@ifrc.org Twitter: @BenoistC