29 October, 2016. Beijing / Kuala Lumpur.  Two months on from the destructive flooding that caused extensive devastation in the Northeast of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), a massive drive is underway to complete construction of thousands of permanent homes before winter sets in.

Approximately 70,000 people were left homeless after their houses were destroyed by floodwaters in North Hamgyong Province. Around 18,600 homes were totally destroyed by the floods and over 11,400 sustained damages. The Government has been leading re-building efforts and aims to complete construction of 20,000 family units. Thousands of volunteers and construction workers have been mobilized from different parts of the country to support building projects across Musan County, Hoeryong City and Yonsa County – the areas which suffered the heaviest damage.

“In the sixty days since the disaster many places are unrecognisable, communities are being rebuilt at an incredibly fast pace”, said Chris Staines, Head of Delegation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in DPRK.

“The floods cut straight through villages destroying homes and leaving a wasteland of sand, rocks and debris in their wake. Now you see new communities springing up in towns and rural areas. Thousands of houses and apartment blocks are under construction and many are virtually completed.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) together with the UN and other international organisations are contributing to the reconstruction effort by providing corrugated iron (GGI) roofing sheets for 10,000 housing units. The IFRC’s contribution of 200,000 roofing sheets represents 30% of the commitment by the international community. The first shipment is on its way from a supplier in China and in the coming weeks, IFRC will be using road, rail and sea transport to deliver further consignments.

On 21 September the IFRC launched a 15.2 million Swiss Franc emergency appeal (USD 15.5 million, Euros 13.9 million) to enable the DPRK Red Cross Society to reach more than 330,000 people with aid. But so far, only 25% of the appeal target (3.8 million Swiss francs) has been met.

“With the funding shortfall one of my concerns is the reduction we have to make in our planned winterisation programme. While it is good that permanent homes are going up quickly there will still be other needs that people face through the winter. Many will not have regular access to clean water, essential medicines are in short supply and temperatures are dipping below zero. People will need adequate food, clean water, warm clothing and fuel to heat their homes”.

Over the coming five months the IFRC will focus on providing families with clean water by distributing water purification tablets together with a hygiene awareness campaign to reduce the risk of communicable and waterborne diseases. Winter clothes, soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene products and other items essential to maintaining their personal hygiene will also be distributed.

The IFRC and DPRK Red Cross are also in discussions with the government to assess the need for support to water supply infrastructure in Musan County. This may extend to rehabilitating the water pumping station in Musan Up (town) that was damaged by the floods and procuring water pipes to connect newly constructed apartment blocks to the main water network.

Notes for editors:

Press briefing: Patrick Fuller, the IFRC’s communications manager for Asia Pacific has recently returned from North Hamgyong Province and will be giving a press briefing in Beijing on Saturday, 29 October, 2016.

Time: 14:00 local time

Location: Golden Dragon Jianguo Hot Spring Hotel Beijing  金龙建国温泉酒店

No. 5 Jianguomen South Avenue, Beijing

Video B-Roll from Musan County in North Hamgyong Province will be available for download from the IFRC’s Newsroom and photographs available on the IFRC’s image library, both accessible through www.ifrc.org.

For updates on the IFRC / DPRK Red Cross North Hamgyong floods operation follow us on Twitter @IFRCAsiaPacific

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Media contacts

In Pyongyang:

  • Chris Staines, head of delegation, IFRC | Mobile: +850 1912501149 | Email: chris.staines@ifrc.org

In Kuala Lumpur:

  • Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC | Mobile : +60 122 308 451 | E-mail : patrick.fuller@ifrc.org

In Beijing:

  • Hler Gudjonsson, communications delegate for East Asia, IFRC | Mobile: +86 139 10096892 | E-mail: hler.gudjonsson@ifrc.org

In Geneva

  • Benoit Carpentier, Team leader, public communications, IFRC | Mobile: +41792132413 | E-mail: Benoit.Carpentier@ifrc.org  Twitter: @BenoistC