Wed, Aug 22, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Red Cross launches US$5.5m flood aid appeal for N Korea

AGENCIES , SEOUL

An international aid group is appealing for US$5.5 million in aid to help North Korea recover from the recent floods that wreaked havoc on the country.

The appeal launched on Monday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is aimed at helping 3.7 million North Koreans who were affected by the deadly flooding that hit the North earlier this month.

The heaviest rains in 40 years in the North killed at least 221 while completely or partially destroying almost 60,000 homes, public buildings and up to 40 percent of the country's health facilities and supplies, according to the federation.

"The situation is worsening as people are falling sick due to the poor hygiene conditions," Jaap Timmer, head of the International Red Cross team in Pyongyang, said in a statement released on Monday.

Timmer also said a lot of North Koreans have been stricken with diarrhea due to contaminated water and that there are reports of an increase in acute respiratory infections, particularly in children.

Meanwhile, Australia said it will provide A$2 million (US$1.6 million) worth of food aid to North Korea as part of emergency relief efforts through the World Food Program.

Meanwhile, South Korea said yesterday that it is preparing to return home 11 bodies presumed to be North Koreans found over the past two weeks after apparently being swept away by the floods, a police officer said, asking not to be named citing policy.

"We are coordinating timing" with North Korea on handing over the bodies, an official of South Korea's Red Cross said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media.

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