Flood-hit N.Korea Says Urgently Needs Food

North Korea needs food aid urgently after floods devastated farms and displaced thousands of people, who have been left hungry and sick, a North Korean official was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying on Friday.

Flood-hit N.Korea Says Urgently Needs Food
North Korea has turned down offers of help from international aid agencies and from South Korea's Red Cross to cope with flooding that could push the country -- which battles chronic food shortages -- to famine, officials have said. Kim Song-won, an official with the North's Committee for National Economic Cooperation, said his country would not refuse help from the South, a major aid donor, if it came with no strings attached.

"The most urgent thing is to resolve the food problem and the need for rice is especially great," South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted Kim as saying in Dandong, the Chinese border town across from the North's northwestern region. Three major storms hit North Korea in July, leaving nearly 300 people dead or missing, international agencies have said. North Korea earlier this year requested 500,000 tonnes of rice from the South, but Seoul linked the aid to the North's return to stalled talks on ending its nuclear weapons programme.

Kim said the exact number of people affected by the flooding was not known, but there had been heavy damage to farms in the south where the main staple rice is grown. "Large areas of paddies and fields are completely under water, so rice farming looks impossible," he said. "Barren hills caused farm houses to be swept away, leaving people to camp out on elevated land, and they are far short of food and blankets. It's devastating," Kim said. The U.N. World Food Programme said Pyongyang has turned down its offer of emergency food aid. The WFP estimates 60,000 people were made homeless or displaced by the flooding.

"The U.N. World Food Programme has been informed by the government of the DPRK (North Korea) that it can deal with the problem on its own," spokesman Barry Came said earlier this week. As a condition for the aid, the WFP has said it will conduct a full assessment of the damage to find out North Korea's needs and then monitor the aid to make sure it gets to the people who require it most. Up to 2.5 million North Koreans, or about 10 percent of its population, died in the 1990s due to famines caused by drought, flooding and mismanagement of the agriculture sector, the WFP has quoted studies as saying.

Source: Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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