Po­lit­i­cal con­cerns stop­ping vi­tal North Korea flood aid

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PO­LIT­I­CAL con­cerns over the North Korean regime are stop­ping vi­tal relief aid from reach­ing the vic­tims of a ma­jor flood there, the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Red Cross and Red Cres­cent So­ci­eties (IFRC) said.

Nearly 70,000 peo­ple are es­ti­mated to have lost their homes in dis­as­trous flood­ing in North Ham­gy­ong prov­ince in Au­gust and Septem­ber that claimed more than 130 lives.

Gov­ern­ments need “to put pol­i­tics aside and recog­nise that this is a hu­man­i­tar­ian tragedy”, the IFRC said in Beijing, adding that it was “dif­fi­cult” for many to sep­a­rate the is­sue of sanc­tions from the need for aid.

Last month, the Red Cross be­gan an emer­gency cam­paign for funds, but so far the re­sponse has been “dis­ap­point­ing”, only meet­ing 25 per­cent of its tar­get, he said.

While the North Korean gov­ern­ment has made progress build­ing new hous­ing for the flood’s vic­tims, many still live in tem­po­rary shel­ters.

Win­ter is go­ing to be the main chal­lenge when tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected to dip as low as -15 de­grees Cel­sius.

IFRC had in­tended to use the re­quested funds to sup­ply ba­sic items such as win­ter cloth­ing and fuel to 7000 fam­i­lies. But due to the short­fall, they will not be able to do so.

The floods along the Tu­men River, which par­tially marks the bor­der with China and Rus­sia, tore through vil­lages, wash­ing away build­ings and leav­ing hun­dreds of thousands in ur­gent need of food and shel­ter.

Other aid agen­cies have also said that rais­ing money for hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance in North Korea has be­come an in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult task given the global con­dem­na­tion of its nu­clear weapons pro­gram.

Some donors have ques­tioned how the North can af­ford to de­velop and test nu­clear weapons but still need fi­nan­cial help to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of flood vic­tims. –

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