Emergency appeal for DPRK flood survivors

Published: 20 August 2007

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for 6.6 million Swiss francs ($5.5 million / euro4 million) to help 3.7 million people affected by severe flooding in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

One of the main objectives of the appeal is to provide basic emergency medicines in the two worst-affected provinces, South Hamgyong and South Phyongan, and in the city of Kaesong, following serious damage to the health infrastructure.

“We have at least 89,000 people left completely homeless after this disaster and we are working hard to respond to their needs, but with clinics and hospitals put out of action and drug supplies ruined, the number of people whose lives have been impacted is far wider, and they need the international community’s help,” says Jaap Timmer, Head of the Federation’s Delegation in the DPRK.

Over the past two weeks, the heaviest rains in 40 years have hit five provinces in DPRK, wiping out homes, roads, crops, water supplies and bridges, and completely or partially destroying 30 to 40 per cent of health facilities and supplies.

“The situation is worsening as people are falling sick due to the poor hygiene conditions,” said Timmer. “A lot of people with watery diarrhoea are being treated daily, and it’s because of the contaminated water they are using.”

There are also reports of an increase in acute respiratory infections, particularly in children, while dehydration and skin and eye infections are also of concern.

According to latest available statistics, the floods have killed at least 221 people. Almost 60,000 homes and public buildings have been partially or completely destroyed.

Since the disaster began, more than 14,000 volunteers and staff from the DPRK Red Cross have been mobilized to help with evacuations, monitoring, first aid and the distribution of relief supplies, including blankets, water containers, plastic sheets and kitchen utensils, in flood-affected villages.

In order to replenish relief stocks and continue responding to people’s needs, the International Federation released 250,000 Swiss francs ($205,000 USD or euro 153,000) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund on 17 August.

The International Federation has been present in the DPRK since 1995, working in close partnership with the National Red Cross Society and in cooperation with the UN and other agencies. The Federation’s long-established programmes include the provision of basic medicines to more than 8 million people, support for 2,500 local health clinics and extensive work on community-based disaster preparedness. The International Federation also supports efforts to provide clean drinking water taps and latrines in vulnerable communities.