Concern mounts after severe flooding in DPRK leaves over 140,000 in urgent need of support

Published: 13 September 2016

Kuala Lumpur, 13 September 2016 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is extremely concerned for the welfare of thousands of people affected by severe flooding in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). At least 140,000 people are now estimated to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance following the highly destructive floods that struck the province of North Hamgyong 14 days ago.

The government has confirmed that 133 people have been killed and another 395 people remain missing. Over 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes and more than 35,000 houses have been damaged – out of which 24,000 have been totally destroyed.

The floods were triggered by heavy rains at the end of August caused by Typhoon Lionrock which collided with another low pressure weather system over neighbouring China. Some areas of North Hamgyong Province experienced 300 mm of rainfall in the course of two days. Areas along the flooded Tumen River are most acutely affected including Musan and Yonsa counties and Hoeryong City.

Some areas, particularly in Musan and Yonsa, remain inaccessible and with limited communications operating, the full extent of the disaster is still emerging as rescue teams make repairs to damaged roads and other infrastructure to reach areas that have been cut off.

Chris Staines, Head of Delegation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in DPRK, recently returned from a joint Government-led needs assessment to North Hamgyong Province, which included UN agencies, DPRK Red Cross, IFRC and international NGOs. Between 6-9 September the assessment team visited some of the most badly affected areas, including Hoeryong City and surrounding villages.

“From what we saw, it is clear that this is a very major and complex disaster. So much of the Hamgyong Province's institutional capacity in health delivery, water supply and sanitation has been directly impacted,” he said.

“In some villages that we visited on the outskirts of Hoeryong City, there was barely a building left unscathed. The floods came through with such force - they destroyed everything in their path. You could see the water mark above head height on some of the houses that survived.  People were salvaging whatever possessions they could from piles of debris where their homes once stood.” 

Apart from the urgent needs for shelter, safe water, food and health care to the displaced population, the floods also disrupted water supply to an estimated 600,000 people in more than six counties.  Around 16,000 hectares of arable land have been inundated and with the local maize and rice crops only a few weeks away from harvest, there are fears for the food security of people across North Hamgyong in the months ahead.

In the immediate aftermath of the flooding, more than 1,000 DPRK Red Cross volunteers supported local authorities and the affected people in search and rescue efforts - they also provided emergency first aid services. Assessment teams are now deployed across North Hamgyong and emergency relief supplies have been mobilised from the Red Cross regional disaster preparedness stocks in South Hamgyong and Pyongyang.

The relief supplies are sufficient for 20,000 people and include essential items such as tarpaulins, tents and tools to make emergency shelters, kitchen sets, plastic water containers with water purification tablets and personal hygiene items.

The IFRC is supporting the DPRK Red Cross with technical support, funding and logistical support to re-stock emergency supplies.

“Access to many areas remains a challenge and we still don't know the full situation in Yonsa County which is feared to be one of the most severely affected areas," said Chris Staines.

“Shelter is a major concern. Thousands of homes will need to be rebuilt before winter sets in and by the end of October overnight temperatures can plummet to sub-zero."

 

For further information contact:

In Beijing:

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

In Kuala Lumpur:

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

In Geneva:

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

 

For more information – http://www.ifrc.org/asia-pacific. Follow us on Twitter @IFRCAsiaPacific

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. 

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