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North Korea: World Vision Team Witnesses Widespread Flood Damage

Assessment team proposes a nine-month aid plan to help meet critical short- and long-term needs.

October 2007

World Vision staff members load boxes of medicines to be distributed in the cities of Pyongsan and Pyongsong in North Korea. Since August, some 960,000 people have been affected by devastating floods there. World Vision proposed a nine-month emergency response and rehabilitation project to the North Korean government. © 2007 Andrea Russell/World Vision
Responding to North Korea's 'worst humanitarian crisis in a decade,' a World Vision delegation traveled into the country last month to assess the needs caused by heavy rains and severe flooding in late August.

'We Are So Grateful'

During their visit, the team members delivered 12 boxes of medical supplies to two hospitals in the cities of Pyongsong and Pyongsan in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "We wish to thank World Vision for the medicines they have provided, and we will use these to especially care for children," said Rim Hyon Kim, president of Pyongsong Hospital.

Government officials in both cities expressed deep concern about the dire situation.

"This is the biggest disaster we have ever seen," said Pyongsong People's Committee Chairwoman Mrs. Han. "As the chairwoman for the county and city, I feel responsible for not being able to provide what people need. That is why we are so grateful for World Vision's support now, and even before the disaster."

She explained how many buildings in the country, including schools, hospitals, and homes, most made from mud, had disintegrated during the heavy rains.

More than 960,000 people are affected by the severe storms that also left more than 960 either dead or missing. Many survivors remain in temporary shelters.

Among those affected are Ri Kum Pok, her husband, Min Pong Gi, and their three boys, whose house was destroyed by the storm.

A Family's Struggle

"We were very scared," said Ri, who described her family's terrifying experience to World Vision assessment team members. "When the rains started on Aug. 7, they were so heavy so quickly, but we tried to stay in our house for as long as we could."

By the following morning, however, the family was forced to flee when their house began caving in, said Ri. Like many other houses in the DPRK, the mud dwelling was reduced to rubble, destroyed by the storm's relentless force.

In addition to losing their house, the family also lost their crops and livestock. And when Ri's son, 13-year-old Min Gyong Chol, became gravely ill after drinking contaminated water, his parents were unable to find medicines in the local market to help ease his pain.

Pyongyang Red Cross staff told World Vision's delegation that 30 percent of the DPRK's health infrastructure has been affected by the severe storms and flooding. Many buildings are ruined and medical supplies damaged.

World Vision's Plan

In response to the tens of thousands of families like Ri's who are in great need, World Vision has proposed to the North Korean government to provide nine months of emergency response services in the country, addressing urgent issues like water and food shortages.

Additionally, World Vision hopes to help repair the country's infrastructure by rebuilding broken water mains, dams, and damaged schools, as well as rehabilitating health clinics. With winter drawing near, our teams also have determined the need to supply blankets and temporary housing materials, since many families live in inadequate shelters.

Learn More

>> Read about World Vision's coordinated efforts to meet the great needs of families and children affected by this crisis.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for those affected by the severe flooding in North Korea, especially for children, who are particularly vulnerable during such disasters and are prone to waterborne illnesses. Pray that World Vision's coordinated relief efforts will quickly reach the suffering people who need assistance to survive the coming winter season.
>> Give monthly to help World Vision continue to quickly respond with aid for children and families who need it most in the aftermath of disasters. Become an Emergency Response Partner.

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