By Kamal Niraula, IFRC Disaster Management Delegate, in Pyongyang
For Ri Byong Suk and her husband and two children, aged 11 and 13, who are still at school nearby, life as a farming family on the outskirts of Kaesong City had been hard. But they were managing happily. All that that was to suddenly change on the night of July 13
“It was pouring down with rain and then at around midnight, I was startled to hear a really loud noise. Thankfully, we all managed to get out of the house, but our home was washed away.” With it, the family lost all their assets and of course their hope.
The next morning, she was visited by neighbours and people`s co-operative farm mamagement committee memebers. They offered her some food to tide the family over for a few days, but luckily she had some potatoes from her kitchen garden on which her family could survive for a week or so.
In the meantime, DPRK Red Cross volunteers reached her, bringing some non-food items consisting of a tarpaulin for temporary shelter, kitchen ware, a jerry can for storing water, quilts and of course water purification tablets. She was also happy to receive some hygiene kits for personal use. Pointing out to the tent next to her, she mentioned, “the volunteers then helped me to put up a tent, thus, I was to some extent able to regain my shattered hopes”.
Between June 23 and July 16, torrential rains lashed southern areas of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including Kaesong city, South Hamgyong, North and South Hwanghae provinces.
According to state media, heavy rains in many parts of the DPRK from July 12 to 15, caused damage to 15, 000 hectares of farmland, public buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.
Already in Kaesong and North Hwanghae, DPRK Red Cross has distributed over 600 emergency relief kits to affected families (one emergency relief kit contains 2 tarpaulins, 4 blankets, 1 cooking set and 1 jerry can). Besides water purification tablets, family hygiene kits (containing body soap, laundry soap, sanitary pads, hand towels, a mirror, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, comb) were also distributed.
In addition, 2,460 family kits are on the way to South Hwanghae province for distribution.
Emergency funding of CHF 492,925 (USD 633,246 or EUR 445,082) has been allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Red Cross in delivering immediate assistance to some 15,380 flood survivors..
The chairman of the Kaesong city DPRK Red Cross branch Mr. Kim Yong Mun is active in providing relief assistance to the affected population through mobiliation of volunteers and creating health awareness.
“ Lack of food to the displaced population and other people in general is a big concern,” he says. The DPRK government and a number of international humanitarian agencies have pointed to the serious shortfall of food affecting the country’s public distribution system. The European Union has pledged 10 million euros (USD 14.54 million) to the DPRK in emergency food aid.
DPRK Red Cross projects, supported by IFRC, are also making a significant contribution to food security, by providing food processing equipment to communities, helping them to generate extra income to reinvest in a a variety of ways for more productive farming.