The United Nations said it is willing to help North Korea recover from severe flood damage, and is in contact with authorities there.
“In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the unusually heavy rains this month have resulted in flooding,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters during a regular briefing on Tuesday (US time), referring to North Korea by its formal name.
“The UN team is in contact with authorities and stands ready to support its response to the most vulnerable communities if required and requested.”
Days of torrential downpours have flooded hundreds of houses and vast rice fields in North Korea, raising concerns about crop damage and food supply shortages in the reclusive regime, which is already grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and a flailing economy under international sanctions.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the North appears to have received more rainfall this month than the same period of 2007, when the country suffered its worst floods.
The ministry on Wednesday reiterated its push for humanitarian cooperation with North Korea regardless of political and military situations. But it added that there were still no concrete plans to provide flood assistance to North Korea, given that the extent of the damage in the North is not precisely known.
On Wednesday, Pak Pong-ju, vice chairman of the North’s highest decision-making committee, the State Affairs Commission, inspected a flood-stricken region in the country’s western area and called for prompt work to repair the flood damage.
Pak visited Taechong-ri of Unpha County in North Hwanghae Province, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited last week and decided to ship grain from his reserves to the residents and flood victims.
The county is one of the hardest-hit areas in the North, with the state media saying 600 hectares of rice fields and more than 900 homes were inundated or destroyed. The North still has not revealed the extent of the flood damage in other parts of the country.
North Korea has historically been vulnerable to flooding due to poor drainage, lack of infrastructure and rampant deforestation, raising concerns about food security as rains arrive during the summer harvest season. Flood-stricken North Hwanghae Province is the country’s main agricultural region.
Earlier this week, the Red Cross mobilized 43,000 North Korean volunteers to help communities throughout the country with flood assistance.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org