Saturday, August 05, 2006

North Korea Declines Aid From Red Cross

North Korea, which was hit by torrential rain and flash floods last month, declined offers of aid from the South Korean and the International Red Cross, an official said.

"We asked the North Korean government what it would need in terms of relief aid to help in their efforts to recover after last month's heavy rains,'' said Kim Hyung Sup, a spokesman at South Korea's National Red Cross. "North Korean authorities replied that, while they appreciate the offer, they are able to manage on their own. I seriously doubt that.''

Floods last week also damaged farmland, tens of thousands of shelters and public buildings. Hundreds of roads, bridges and railways were destroyed.

North Korea canceled two festivals this month, citing relief efforts. It postponed its Arirang Festival, which features its mass games, as well as an annual festival with South Korea to mark their independence from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II.

"The biggest problem for North Korea will be food shortages, especially in winter and next year, because most of its farmlands were flooded,'' Kim said. ``Water and medical supplies are likely to be in demand, either because of the wounded as well as concerns of infectious diseases that may spread in the aftermath of the rains.''


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