World News

Political concerns stopping North Korea's flood aid: Red Cross

The Red Cross had last month begun an emergency campaign for funds, but the response has been disappointing, meeting only 25 percent of its target, an official said.

Published: 29th October 2016 03:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2016 03:31 PM   |  A+A-


BEIJING: 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 on Saturday.

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," IFRC's communication manager for the Asia Pacific told reporters in Beijing following a trip to the region, 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.

"It's not nearly enough to support the operation over the coming months."

While the North Korean government has had made progress building new housing for the flood's victims, many are still living in temporary shelters.

"Winter is going to be the main challenge," Fuller said, showing footage of homeless families building fires from bits of kindling and fetching water from shallow streams.

As the season changes, temperatures are expected to dip as low as -15 Celsius: 

"It's not a situation where people can continue to live under plastic sheeting," he said.

IFRC had intended to use the requested funds to supply basic items such as bedding, winter clothing and fuel to 7,000 families, Fuller added.

But due to the shortfall he said they would not be able to provide all that. 

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 programme.

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.

The impoverished and isolated North is vulnerable to natural disasters, especially floods, due partly to deforestation and poor infrastructure. 

At least 169 people were killed by a massive rainstorm in the summer of 2012.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.