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Red Cross to provide US$320,000 for flood-hit N. Korea

The international Red Cross has said it will provide North Korea with an emergency fund of US$320,000 to help flood victims in the communist country.

In a report posted on its website Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it has allocated 299,744 Swiss franc from its disaster relief emergency fund "to help the DPRK Red Cross Society in delivering immediate assistance to 5,000 families or 20,000 beneficiaries."

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Torrential rains since early July have caused extensive flooding and landslides across the impoverished communist country, killing 33 people and injuring 2 others with 18 still missing, according to the IFRC data. An estimated 4,000 families have lost their homes and 50,000 have been displaced.

In response, the agency plans to spend $120,000 to set up a shelter for 5,000 families in the most affected areas of North and South Pyongan and North Hwanghae Provinces, another $100,000 for utensils, and $40,700 for water, sanitation and hygiene works.

"The operation targets to support affected families with essential items ... It also supports the operational cost of the two water treatment units and hygiene promotion activities," the IFRC said in the report.

The relief operation will continue over the next three months until the end of October, it added.

In the wake of the tragedy in the North, the IFRC dispatched an eight-member group of experts to the affected areas and has conducted damage assessment and led relief work. 

The fund is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for its emergency response, according to the agency's website.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, has established disaster management organizations across the country to deal with the damages caused by the flooding and landslides, a report by the Chosun Sinbo said.

The paper belonging to the pro-North Korea General Association of Korean Residents in Japan said these organizations are being staffed 24-hours a day to help policymakers determine the exact extent of damage and oversee relief efforts.

It said the Red Cross of North Korean sent two mobile water purification systems to Anju, a city in South Pyongan Province that is producing up to 90,000 liters of clean water per day, while tents, blankets, sanitation kits and aid shipments have been handed out to people who have been driven from their homes and forced to take temporary shelter. (Yonhap News)