Agencies warn of fresh disaster as winter looms in flood-hit N. Korea

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SEOUL: Humanitarian agencies are warning of a “second disaster” in flood-hit North Korea with tens of thousands — many of them children — still homeless as the region’s bitter winter approaches.

Nearly 70,000 people are estimated to have lost their homes in disastrous flooding in North Hamgyong province in August and September that claimed more than 130 lives.

In a joint statement Friday, Save the Children and UNICEF warned that flood-hit areas would begin to see sub-zero temperatures from the end of

October as the “long and bitter” winter sets in.

“Thousands of children are suffering and the impending winter will trigger a second disaster if we do not increase assistance for children and families,” said UNICEF’s country head in North Korea, Oyunsaihan Dendevnorov said.

“They have lost everything: clean water, food, medicine and shelter. Without more attention, the suffering of children will only get worse,” Dendevnorov added.

The floods along the Tumen River, which partially marks the border with China and Russia, tore through villages, washing away buildings and leaving hundreds of thousands in urgent need of food and shelter.

Paolo Fattori, Save the Children’s Program Director in North Korea, urged donors to come through with funds before winter arrives.