Storm in August left 70,000 homeless and 600,000 in need, with children now at high risk, say Unicef and Save the Children
International aid agencies have called for millions of dollars of funding for an urgent relief effort in North Korea after floods in the countrys remote north-east in August left 70,000 people homeless and 600,000 others in need of humanitarian assistance, including tens of thousands of children.
Unicef and Save the Children said on Friday that without further help, many more children will be at risk as the country prepares for a long and bitterly cold winter, when temperatures regularly drop well below zero.
Officials estimate that 130 people died in the flooding, triggered by Typhoon Lionrock, and another 400 are missing.
Save the Childrens programme director in North Korea, Paolo Fattori, told the Guardian by phone from Pyongyang: The situation is very serious.
Fattori, who has made several visits to the worst-affected areas of North Hamgyong province, said many of the displaced victims had built makeshift shelters but were effectively living in the open with no access to clean water.
The greatest risk is to children, particularly if they are not rehoused and given access to a proper water supply before the winter sets in, he said. We are already seeing a rise in cases of diarrhoea and other stomach ailments associated with lack of clean water and poor hygiene.
North Korean authorities have mobilised 200,000 people to help with the relief effort, which will centre on the construction of 20,000 homes before temperatures drop to dangerously low levels.
The situation right now is urgent and on an enormous scale not seen here in decades, said Fattori. Thats why we need the international community to step up and immediately increase funding for this emergency response. There can be no delay.