Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless and starvation once again threatens the people of North Korea after heavy flooding this month. A United Nations Team visiting the area has reported 88 people killed and are assessing the damage with a view to developing an aid plan.
North Korea remains one of the world’s most closed societies. Its population of 24 million people is unable to access free media, express political opposition or enjoy religious freedoms.
UnitingWorld’s Reverend John Barr, who is just back from a visit to Korea where he met with the Uniting Church in Australia’s partner in North Korea, the Byul Bit Foundation, says the situation in many parts of North Korea is grim
“We heard reports of children scouring the countryside, looking for anything green that can be boiled up and eaten”, he said. “People resort to eating grass, the threat of starvation is so great.”
Last year the UN estimated almost 6 million people required urgent food assistance to avoid famine, and that almost a third of children under 5 showed significant signs of malnutrition. In their weakened state, people are highly susceptible to tuberculosis, which is fatal when left untreated. North Korea has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis infection in the world.
The Uniting Church in Australia, in partnership with local organisations and at the request of the North Korean government, is working to provide health care, accommodation for orphaned children, nursing training and food relief.
To find out how to support this project through UnitingWorld, visit www.unitingworld.org.au/nevertoofar.