By Kim Young-jin
North Korea has apparently requested aid from a U.S.-based nonprofit after recent flooding wrought heavy damage in parts of the impoverished country.
Christian Friends of Korea (CFK) said on its website last week that the North asked them to respond to a need for food, medicine and construction materials to the “fullest extent possible” to deal with “significant” flood damage.
The organization said it will follow through on a planned visit to North Korea later this month and assess flash flood destruction in the areas it works in.
This marks the first time a U.S.-based NGO has reported receiving an aid request directly from the North Korean government.
“We know from visits in years past of the damage and misery that (can) occur in the DPRK following heavy flooding,” it said.
The North’s official KNCA reported earlier this month that the flooding, brought on by torrential rain, had destroyed homes, roads and buildings. Almost 15,000 hectares of farmland were submerged, it said.
It reported casualties in Jagang and South Hamgyong provinces near its border with China but did not elaborate on how many, nor if people had died. China has also been coping with its worst flooding in decades.
The report did not indicate the level of need for outside help.
CFK is currently working to treat and control tuberculosis in the North, including refurbishing clinics and providing training. It said that in requesting aid, the government asked that it not divert from the medical work.
The original purpose of the planned trip was to confirm earlier aid shipments that included food, medical supplies, greenhouses and farming equipment.
The aid request came amid concerns regarding rivers near the border with China, which have swollen to dangerous levels. Xinhua News Agency reported earlier in the week that more heavy rain is expected in China.