China offers US$3 million in humanitarian aid to flood-hit North Korea
Red Cross says more cash urgently needed to help those hit by disaster in northeast of the country in August and September
China on Wednesday announced a US$3 million relief package to North Korea to help it deal with flooding earlier this year that left hundreds dead.
The Commerce Ministry has offered the emergency cash to North Korea’s northeastern areas for humanitarian aid and reconstruction projects.
The flooding along the Tumen River, which runs between the two countries, has left about 70,000 homeless.
It was triggered by Typhoon Lionrock, which swept through North Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces two months ago.
The aid announcement comes as North Korea and international organisations are finding it difficult to secure enough funds for disaster stricken areas, mainly due to political concerns stemming from Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
The ministry said the aid provision was decided following a request from North Korea.
It is unclear if this is an additional aid programme as North Korea’s official media already reported in late September that China’s government had decided to provide relief goods to the devastated areas.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said late last month that the country was considering building temporary floating bridges on the river to transport relief goods to north Hamgyong province.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies renewed its call on Saturday for more funds for tens of thousands of North Koreans in the region still in need of help.
Patrick Fuller, the federation’s communications manager for the Asia-Pacific region, told a press conference in Beijing that it was disappointing that only 25 per cent of its US$15.5 million emergency appeal, launched on September 21, has been raised so far.
After finishing a two-week mission in North Korea, during which he visited the areas in the province, Fuller said the disaster was a humanitarian tragedy and urged the international community to put politics aside to help those affected before winter’s chill sets in.
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, in defiance of multiple international warnings, while its ordinary people were suffering from the flooding.
UN Security Council members have been negotiating on how best to punish North Korea for the nuclear test, its second this year.
North Korea has also repeatedly test fired ballistic missiles.
North Korea is preparing to launch another intermediate range missile, which has a potential range of between 2,500 and 4,000km, in the next 24 to 72 hours, Fox News reported, citing US officials.