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Donor countries pledge support for victims of DPR Korea flood, says UN official

Donor countries pledge support for victims of DPR Korea flood, says UN official

ASG Margareta Wahlström
More than a dozen United Nations Member States today pledged to support relief efforts to victims of severe flooding that has swept the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) this month, one of the world body’s top humanitarian officials announced.

Many of the countries – the Republic of Korea, Japan, the United States, China, Russia, Italy, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and Finland, as well as the European Commission – have already made financial contributions to organizations on the ground, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström told reporters in New York.

In the meeting, donors “welcomed the efforts that are being made to support in this disaster,” she said.

UN agencies are participating in missions to assess the extent of the damage, which Ms. Wahlström characterized as a “serious disaster,” on par with the devastating flooding in the East Asian nation in the mid-1990s.

The Coordinator said that she hopes a “framework that everyone feels confident that that’s the correct one” will be reached in the coming days.

Today and tomorrow, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its Government counterpart are conducting assessments in North Hwanghae and South Hamgyong provinces.

Assessment efforts are continuing despite the physical damage wrought by the heavy rains, including destroyed bridges and roads.

The next priority for UN agencies and their partners is to coordinate their actions to respond to victims’ needs, Ms. Wahlström noted.

However, assessment work will continue, as there is an “ongoing need to verify and further assess the situation of people,” she said.

Official figures put the death toll at 221, with 80 people missing and more than 300,000 rendered homeless by the flooding. Nearly 50,000 houses have been destroyed and a further 85,000 submerged or badly damaged, and forecasts indicate that rains will continue for the next 48 hours.

The nation’s grain and rice bowls lie in the most affected provinces, with the Ministry of Agriculture estimating that 11 per cent of rice and maize fields have been flooded, buried or washed away. Coal mining, rail transport, fisheries and construction materials industries have also been seriously affected by the rains, authorities said.

WFP has readied 4,000 metric tons of wheat flour, soybeans, vegetable oil and sugar, and is prepared to launch an emergency operation to feed 320,000 people.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) – in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health – will distribute 80,000 water purification tablets, with a single table purifying 20 litres, as well as eight medical emergency kits, each serving 10,000 people for three months.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) will provide emergency delivery kits for home and clinic births, and is also conducting a pilot population census to ascertain the extent of housing damage.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with the Ministry of Public Health to begin distribution next week of essential medical kits, each to aid 4,000 people for three months, and also 500 family water kits. The agency is procuring water purification tablets for 30,000 families and calcium hyperchlorite to treat local water systems.

In concert with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF will conduct a rapid assessment to help flood-ravaged schools prepare for the new academic year.