United Nations agencies have started mobilizing resources, including water, food and other basic goods, to help some 63,000 people who have been left homeless by a cyclone that caused intense flooding in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Over the past two weeks, the Khanun cyclone caused flash flooding in several provinces in the country, killing more than 100 people and displacing thousands, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.
On Monday, the Government requested that a UN country team release pre-positioned emergency stocks, particularly food and fuel, to support ongoing relief efforts. The next day an inter-agency assessment mission visited Anju City and Songchon in South Pyongan province and Chonnae in Kangwon province, which are the three most affected counties, according to the Government.
The mission found that a breakdown of water supply systems was limiting access to clean water, making it a priority to re-establish access and provide health care to avoid water-borne diseases.
OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva that preliminary support had been mobilized from UN agencies and partners to address this issue, but noted that further assessments over the coming days were required to establish the exact needs of the population.
Mr. Laerke stressed that the severe flooding complicated the situation in the country, which has been suffering chronic food shortages for years, and added that the collaboration of the Government, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations is needed to contain this disaster.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that it already started delivering life-saving supplies, including 10 million water purification tablets to affected families who urgently need clean drinking water. It is also delivering water and sanitation equipment, emergency health kits, and recreation and education kits.
For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) is sending a first batch of food aid to flood-hit areas, which will provide victims with an initial ration of 400 grams of maize per day for 14 days, the agency said in a news release.
OCHA stated that while priority interventions will occur in those counties that have been assessed, humanitarian assistance will also be provided for other counties that have been affected, with further inspections and visits expected to provide further details on the humanitarian situation.