North Korea to accept international aid

Friday, August 18, 2006

In the wake of last month's floods, North Korea has agreed to accept aid from South Korean donors as well as international organisations. This signifies an apparent change of heart the North Korean leadership, which as recently as last month had insisted they would handle everything itself.

Local North Korean sources put the number of deaths from the floods at 547 and a few hundred missing, however Good Friends, a South Korean private aid agency, estimates the numbers may be more than hundred times that and top 57,700 deaths. Good Friends, citing "many sources" inside North Korea, also estimates more than 2.5 million homeless and hundred of thousands of acres of farmland had been inundated.

Initially the aid from United Nations World Food Program will cover 150 tonnes of food to feed 13,000 people for a month in North Korea's worst hit northern Songchon County. South Korea has pledged an additional $72 million.

In related news North Korean infant mortality reached 21 for every 1000, one of the highest in the world, mostly due to malnutrition and poor medical conditions.