Flooding disaster in North Korea: How rare is it for the country to accept outside relief?
By By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
September 26, 2016, 4:07:54 AM EDT
Tens of thousands of North Koreans lost their homes as devastating flooding overtook one of the poorest regions of the country earlier this month.
After Typhoon Lionrock barreled over the region, more flooding ensued into the start of September. Multiple levees reportedly failed as well, exacerbating the already inundated area.
Between 100 and 127 mm (4 and 5 inches) of rain fell in the northern provinces that border China around early September.
Entire villages were reportedly destroyed and thousands lost their homes. More than 100 people were reportedly killed and up to 150,000 are potentially displaced.
After reports of the flooding were issued by the state-run media, some countries and organizations started sending humanitarian aid to the country.
While it seems rare for the resolute country to appear vulnerable, the nation will take nearly all monetary aid, regardless of the source, Gerard Roland, an E. Morris Cox professor of economics and political science at University of California at Berkley, told AccuWeather.
Whether that money goes to the affected people is the question.
"They don't trust anybody outside North Korea," Roland said. "However, they're also very cynical; they will use any aid that they can get to prop up the regime to divert resources to the military program."
The majority of the accepted aid comes in the form of money, limiting access to the country from outsiders. Any aid workers allowed into the borders are intensely monitored.
Between a fragile economy and limited resources, the need for aid for help shows the country's weakness, Roland said.
However, it is not a severe political crisis for the regime. In the 1990s, North Korea suffered catastrophic flooding that caused a severe food shortage. More than a million people were killed. Since then, response resources have improved.
Still, international aid groups like the United Nations intervened.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) delivered food assistance to more than 140,000 people, according to a press release.
"Families have lost everything, including their kitchen gardens and livestock, which many households depend upon to supplement their diets," Darlene Tymo, WFP’s representative and country director in North Korea, said.
The flooding took place shortly before harvest season, likely knocking out essential crops.
The two flood-affected provinces have the highest levels of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition in the country, the WFP said in a press release.
"I think North Koreans are known to be really resilient," Roland said, adding that this situation is nothing they haven't faced before.
Rebuilding efforts have already begun, state media reported.
Officials are working to provide building materials and food to the impacted regions, KCNA, North Korea's official news agency said.
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