ROK flood aid to DPRK

From Yonhap:

S. Korean drug companies to send medical aid to N. Korea

SEOUL– An association of South Korean drug companies said Friday that it will send medical supplies to flood-devastated North Korea.

Torrential rains pounded the communist country in mid-July, leaving hundreds of people killed or missing, according to United Nations and other international aid workers operating in the country. The floods also wiped out arable land that could lead to the loss of 100,000 tons of crops, they said.

From Joong Ang Daily:

With bipartisan nod, Seoul to fund NGO flood aid

Prompted by bipartisan recommendations from political parties that the government should send medicines and emergency food to flood victims in the North, a government official said yesterday it will provide financial support upon request for humanitarian assistance projects by non-governmental groups.

“The Grand National and the Democratic Labor parties said [Thursday] that humanitarian aid programs should resume, and we welcome such a position,” Uri Party chairman Kim Geun-tae said yesterday. “Humanitarian aid to the North must not be blocked by politics.” He urged the government to resume its humanitarian aid to the North unconditionally.

After North Korea fired seven missiles and refused discussions about the launch with the South last month, Seoul withheld previously promised rice and fertilizer aid in protest.

A senior Unification Ministry official said yesterday that the government would participate in the provision of relief goods to help North Korean flood victims through non-governmental groups. The Roh Moo-hyun administration is seriously considering funding relief groups when they seek government help.

“We believe that civic groups will make their requests for help next week,” the official said. “Because it is an emergency relief program, the government will participate.”

The non-governmental groups’ aid package includes rice, and the government is expected to fund the food in the aid package. The Grand Nationals, however, said earlier that relief food to the North should not include rice.

While no accurate flood damage assessment in the North is available, the Food and Agricultural Organization said yesterday that torrential rains in July flooded about 5,000 hectares (19.3 square miles), or 2 percent of the farmland in North Korea, adding that the country, which was still recovering from years of famine, lost about 1,000 tons of corn and beans from the disaster.

A spokesman for an alliance of South Korean civic groups, the South Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration, said its delegation may be able to get more accurate information about the flood damage by next week. Committee members will meet with their North Korean counterparts at the Mount Kumgang resort on Friday to discuss the canceled inter-Korean celebration of Liberation Day, the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 1945. The North called it off earlier this week, citing severe flood damage. At the meeting, the two sides are expected to talk about humanitarian aid for flood victims.

Meanwhile, the flood disaster in the North rang alarm bells in the South about the potential for an epidemic as the number of patients with malaria in the North reportedly increased after last month’s flooding. Earlier this month, a South Korean activist group, Good Friends, said that an increasing number of malaria patients have been found in Kaesong and Haeju in the North after the flood.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said mosquitoes could fly from North Korea to South Korean regions near the Demilitarized Zone. According to the center’s data from January to June, 333 patients with malaria were reported to the center, up 47 percent from 226 patients in the same period last year. The western parts of the DMZ, Gimpo and Paju in Gyeonggi province and Ganghwa in Incheon, are likely to be infested by malaria mosquitoes, flying up to 18 kilometers from Kaesong, Jangpyong, and Tosan in North Korea, the center said.


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