Political concerns stopping vital North Korea flood aid
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. –