Monday, July 31, 2006

3,000 believed dead, missing in North Korea

Agence France-Presse reports that 3,000 North Koreans were believed dead or missing following floods and landslides in the impoverished country, quoting a respected South Korean human rights group Good Friends.

AFP reports an estimated 60,000 North Koreans are left homeless and 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) of farmland destroyed in the recent flooding, according to UN relief agency WFP.

"Damage and casualties are far heavier than known so far to the outside world," Good Friends said in a statement.

North Korea stopped accepting UN food aid late last year and asked for development assistance instead, citing better harvests and aid from China and South Korea. However, South Korea earlier this month angrily rejected a North Korean request for rice aid after Pyongang launched a series of missile tests that earned it international condemnation.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) said, "Approximately 75 percent of the estimated 60,000 persons made homeless/displaced due to the floods are located in South Pyongan province." It said flooding of farmland caused the loss of 100,000 tonnes of food supplies, adding to a chronic food crisis in the communist country.

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