North Korea flood victims need immediate food aid warns UN

 

North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged swathes of farmland, the United Nations has said.

Floods caused by two storm systems last month killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands homeless, according to the North's state media.

The flooding, which occurred following a severe drought, renewed concerns about North Korea's ability to feed its people after a previous UN report said in June that two thirds of the country's 24 million people are coping with chronic food shortages.

The UN report said that torrential rains caused severe damage to homes, public buildings, infra-structure and farms, affecting maize, soya bean and rice fields. Some 36,000 families in the city of Anju do not have access to clean water, and wells are contaminated due to overflow of pit latrines and open drainage, raising the risk of a diarrhoea outbreak.

An official in Anju, located in one of the worst affected areas, said earlier this week that it was the worst disaster in its history.

North Korean officials have asked the UN to prioritise the release of emergency supplies, including food and fuel, Martin Nesirky, spokesman for UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, said. The assessment was released by the UN resident co-ordinator's office in Pyongyang, following visits to flood-stricken areas earlier this week.

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