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n korea floods - need help

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by iceberg, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    N. Korea says one-tenth of farmland destroyed

    Pyongyang issues apparent cry for help after floods spur fears of famine

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    [IMG] Updated: 9:44 a.m. CT Aug 15, 2007

    SEOUL - Severe floods have destroyed more than a tenth of North Korea’s farmland at the height of the growing season, official media said Wednesday in reports that appeared to be a cry for outside help from the normally secretive regime.

    Aid officials fear the loss of crop land could seriously hinder the North’s ability to feed its people, causing widespread famine.

    The country has suffered from food shortages since the mid-1990s due to natural disasters, outdated farming methods and the loss of support from Moscow after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The North is especially susceptible to bad weather because of a vicious circle in which people strip hillsides of natural vegetation to create more arable land — increasing the risk of floods.

    The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that rains in some areas of the Taedong River were the “largest ever” measured by the country’s weather agency.

    The flooding submerged, buried or washed away more than 11 percent of the country’s rice and corn fields, KCNA reported, citing Agriculture Ministry official Ri Jae Hyon.

    Fears of famine
    The U.N. food agency estimated the damage claimed by the North so far was about a quarter of the crop losses the country said it suffered in 1995 floods. That previous disaster, along with mismanagement of the economy and the loss of Pyongyang’s Soviet benefactor, led to famine that is believed to have killed as many as 2 million North Koreans.

    Some 113,000 acres of fields in South Phyongan and South Hwanghae provinces were decimated in the most recent flooding, according to KCNA, noting those areas are the “main granaries of the country.”

    “It is hard to expect a high-grain output owing to the uninterrupted rainstorms at the most important time for the growth of crops in the country,” the news agency said.

    State media earlier said the summer storms left “hundreds” dead or missing, and other aid officials have said the death toll was at least 200.

    “What is badly needed first is rice, cement, daily necessities and medicines,” Tong Chang Son, vice chairman of a government committee in South Phyongan province, told APTN. “I would be grateful if there is international aid, for there is great damage on a nationwide scale.”

    To cope with the damage, the North has mobilized the military to help with recovery efforts, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed government officials.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also said he had instructed U.N. agencies in Pyongyang and Bangkok, including the World Food Program and UNICEF, to assess the damage from the flooding and the needs of victims in the countryside.

    Up to 300,000 homeless
    The WFP said Wednesday that North Korean officials reported 200,000 to 300,000 people were homeless, with the total number probably much larger.

    WFP spokesman Paul Risley said from Bangkok that the effects were expected to be especially acute because the weather hit during the pollination period for the crops.

    “There is concern that this could indicate that these floods could significantly reduce the size of this year’s harvest,” he said.

    North Korean citizens worked to rebuild roads, clear debris and shore up sandbags along rivers Wednesday in flood-affected areas outside Pyongyang, APTN television reported. Video footage showed electricity poles tilted sideways and a farmhouse that appeared to have been swept down a hillside.

    Tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program have constrained aid efforts because other countries have been reluctant to donate. The situation has recently improved and North Korea shut off its sole operating nuclear reactor last month.

    Risley said the WFP had planned to double by September the number of those it feeds to 1.9 million people — mostly children and nursing mothers — after a recent donation of $20 million worth of food from South Korea. But because of the floods, that aid is expected to be diverted and the WFP will likely launch a new international appeal for assistance, Risley said.

    The WFP is able to produce critical food items such as biscuits from factories that it runs inside North Korea. However, it still needs outside commodities such as wheat and rice to make them that are shipped via roads and rail — which the North has said were hard-hit by the floods.

    “We’re very concerned by the reports of damages to infrastructure, since that may affect our ability to quickly bring in emergency food rations,” Risley said.
  2. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    this is a time we can just be helpful and do what we can w/o worry about the politics or "glory". i'd like to see us help out in some manner and not worry about it being a bargaining tool or a "poker chip".

    if they need help bad enough to ask, it's bad. let's help and get back to fighting later.
  3. zrinkill

    zrinkill Diamond surrounded by trash

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  4. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Although I agree in regards to humanitarian effort, too many times we send money for food and the dictatorship keeps it for themselves and disregards the people.

    I would love for us to help if we can be guaranteed that the money goes to those that need it.

    Maybe the Red Cross?
  5. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    Hmm...well normally I would agree but I would also have to say that if the US did not get something out of the deal they would be fools. Even if it is something small. Things have seemed to progressed a bit with the little dictator but he has shown that he is not the most trust worthy guy in the world. Make a little side deal and help them out IMO.

    On a side note. They have some vicious monsoon seasons in Korea.

    When I was in S.Korea they had ditches dug everywhere on post and around the villages. Not just your ordinary roadside ditch but well dug out and stone walled ditches. Plus each platoon in our company was responsible for setting up 100 sand bags.

    When I was there I heard it was the mildest Monsoon season in 20 plus years and it still rained plenty but did not flood much. Hate to have seen it when it was bad.

    Many in South Korea did not have much of anything.

    We see some poor places in the US. I am sure many here have seen some pretty run down areas and such.

    However I have only seen place in the USA that was even close to a great deal of the places in S. Korea...now this is South Korea and I can only imagine it is even worse in N. Korea.
  6. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    that would be good. help fund the red cross and such. the ? is - would their leadership be asking for help in a crucial time only to take help for themselves? with past history you have to consider that and as you say - manage to it. but people need help and we're usually the ones going in to do it. even given the threats and "axis of evil" - we're supposed to be above that.

    time to prove it.
  7. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

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    There have been many times that leaders have asked for aid only to keep it for themselves OR other leaders keeping it.

    Look at the aid given in parts of Africa and that section of the world that get horded by tribal leaders while people starve.

    Heck this guy himself was practically starving his people by trying to make nukes instead of feeding his people prior to this.
  8. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    i'd like to think the act w/o price would be enough to have them want to do something in return. yes, it's a high expectation and yes, you have to be ready to come out empty in the end as the gesture would dictate. but if we do a constant "oh, i see you need 10,000,000 bottles of water, 10,000 gallons of propane and a arseload of ramen noodles...what will you give me for them"? then we keep the card game alive.

    "my way" is kinda a longshot dreamer way but in the end it's how i wish we could do all humanitarian work - for the right reasons and without a price to pay for doing things - for the right reasons.

    it has to start somewhere and yes, it will fall flat for awhile before it would eventually take hold, but i'm a hopeless dreamer in this regard.
  9. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    I have never found the UN much good for anything, but maybe allow UN planes to drop food pallets and the Red Cross distribute them...

    The world could finally get some use out of them... ;)
  10. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    yep - that's why i agree a 3rd party would be good to go in and ensure it got where it needed to go.
  11. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    oh god - i see Air America going through my mind now with dropping live pigs onto the villiages.
  12. Eric_Boyer

    Eric_Boyer Well-Known Member

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    It's a catch-22.

    Continuing to make up the shortfalls of a repressive regime will just allow the regime to stay in power longer. On the other hand, nobody wants to see the effects of real poverty on the innocent.
  13. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    Exactly... that's why it scares me to contribute cash.

    It would be just like him to be short of money and looking to further fund his nuclear ambitions...

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