ROK Ship Carries 1st Flood Relief to DPRK

From the Korea Times:
Ship Carries 1st Flood Relief to North
Lee Jin-woo

The South Korean government has shipped its first batch of flood relief to North Korea via the Red Cross, the Ministry of Unification said yesterday.

The shipment included some rice, the supply of which had been halted since the North’s test-firing of missiles on July 5. The government has made it clear that the humanitarian aid is unrelated to the government’s halted periodic aid provided annually to the communist state.

The shipment comprising 300 tons of rice and 20,000 blankets as well as other emergency relief supplies was made through the Korean National Red Cross (KNRC) and set out from Inchon port, west of Seoul, the ministry said.

The ship, Trade Fortune, is expected to arrive at the North Korean port of Nampo in a day or two. Four Red Cross officials are on board to supervise the delivery, a KNRC official said.

The total aid, comprising 100,000 tons of rice, 100,000 tons of iron rods, 80,000 blankets and more than 200 construction vehicles, will be delivered in 40 installments by mid-October.

“The torrential rain also left damage in South Korea, but we decided to send the flood relief to North Koreans, who face a much more dire situation,’’ said Han Wan-sang, president of the KNRC during a ceremony before the shipment. “I hope the two Koreas can find a breakthrough in the chilly inter-Korean relations through the aid program.’’

Also speaking at the ceremony, Vice Unification Minister Shin Un-sang said the humanitarian flood relief has great symbolic meaning as it was based on bipartisan support from the governing and opposition parties as well as the public.

After a meeting of Red Cross officials from the two sides at Mt. Kumgang in the North on Aug. 19, the government announced its humanitarian aid plan for the North to help repair the damage from recent flooding.

The ministry estimates the rice aid will cost some 195 billion won ($203 million); and the construction supplies and equipment, 26 billion won.

The ministry plans to use the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to match the contribution made by local private relief organizations. A 10 billion won subsidy will be given to those organizations next month.

The exact number of flood victims in the North has not been confirmed yet due to a lack of information on the reclusive state.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reported to the National Assembly that some 900 North Koreans are dead or missing because of flooding, sources said. The number greatly differs from claims by South Korean humanitarian aid groups who say casualties have reached 10,000.


Comments are closed.