By Simon Nazer
Huge rains late August 2018 in southern DPR Korea brought with them floods, landslides and loss, affecting over 10,000 people. In Kumchon County, one of the worst affected areas, the floods claimed the lives of 42 people, with children among the victims. Landslides were one of the biggest dangers in this mountainous area and Ri Hyo Sim, mother of 2-year-old Yu Chol, witnessed first-hand how their home and belongings could be taken away in a blink of an eye.
“Our house was on the bank of a mountain and the mud and water smashed through our rooms,” she says now safely in a new home provided by the Government. “We were in the house when the rains started – it was raining so hard. Water was coming through the roof and the walls, and then mud and rocks started coming in. We quickly fled to a safer place.”
UNICEF, in coordination with the Government and other UN agencies, were among the first to deliver life-saving emergency support to over 10,000 people affected by the flood in the south of the country. These supplies include emergency health kits, oral rehydration salts, therapeutic food and micronutrient powder sachets, as well as water purification tablets and filters.
“It was very scary, it happened so quickly and I was worried about our son,” says Ri Hyo Sim. “But we are safe now. It was a very difficult time but we’ve received a lot of help and are doing well now.”
Across town Pak Sol Gyol is working with neighbours to put the finishing touches to their newly built homes. Her family also lost their home and all of their belongings.
“I remember the water coming in very suddenly – we were worried for our safety so ran to higher ground,” she says sitting in her new living room. “We lost everything – water was everywhere.”
Without healthy food and clean water, children are among the first to feel the effects of an emergency. Without assistance children can be quickly susceptible to illness and disease, and even death. Fortunately, UNICEF and partners were quickly on site to provide support.
“We had some health problems after the floods, like diarrhoea,” says Pak Sol Gyol. “But we’ve had regular visits from the household doctor and they showed us how to use the water purification tablets and why they’re important to use.”
We also received soap, buckets, and winter clothes for our son. It’s all been very helpful, and we use still use everything every day.”
In the flood-affected areas UNICEF has delivered essential medicine kits for 290,000 people, life-saving nutrition supplies that have helped treat around 400 acutely malnourished children, provided water and sanitation supplies for 8,400 people, and warm clothing for the cold winter for 1,200 children. UNICEF Global Humanitarian Thematic Funds made a big difference for children and allowed UNICEF DPRK to be a dependable partner in life-threatening emergencies.