DPR Korea: UN identifies needs in wake of deadly floods

16 August 2007 –

As United Nations agencies continue their efforts to assess the damage caused by devastating floods in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a humanitarian official from the world body said today that a donors' meeting will be convened tomorrow.

Donors will meet in New York to discuss how to mobilize resources to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of flood-stricken people, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström told reporters.

According to DPRK authorities, as many as 300,000 people have been made homeless by the severe flooding caused by heavy seasonal rains.

UN agencies on the ground ? the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Resident Coordinator ? have taken part in assessment missions at the behest of the Government, and report that 83 people have lost their lives and 60 are missing.

They also said that in North Hwanghae province, one of the four affected provinces, 10 per cent of the population has been displaced, 70 per cent of the total arable land has been flooded and many health clinics have been destroyed.

Additionally, almost 60,000 houses have been destroyed, more than 90,000 hectares of farmland are flooded and hundreds of bridges have been wrecked, Ms. Wahlström noted.

The floods are exacerbating the already tight food supply in the Asian nation, which kicked off the year with a one million metric ton food deficit. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reserves that it is drawing on to feed the affected population.

“If the figures are borne out by our own assessment, then we are very concerned that his is a significant emergency crisis,” said the agency's Asia spokesperson Paul Risley.

Earlier this week, both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and senior officials from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) met with DPRK's Permanent Representative Pak Gil Yon to offer the world body's support.

“The Government of DPRK has, as you know, welcomed assistance, and we are now together with them defining what the needs will be,” Ms. Wahlström said today. The most pressing needs will be food, medical support and shelter, she added.

UNICEF is ready to distribute pre-positioned supplies in Government warehouses, including 100 essential medicine kids, each containing medicines for 4,000 people for three months. The agency ? which is concerned about the vulnerability of children and women in flood-affected regions ? also has ready 500 family water kits to assist 5,000 families for one month and 20 school-in-a-box kits.

UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are scheduled to meet today in Pyongyang to decide the next course of action to provide assistance in the DPRK, where heavy rains are expected to continue until the end of the week.

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