The World Food Program is dispatching emergency help to North Korea after devastating flooding that has killed scores of people and left nearly 63,000 homeless. The emergency aid will provide flood victims with 400 grams of maize per day for two weeks, the United Nations agency said.
North Korean state media reported this week that 4,000 homes were submerged from the torrential rain that hit the country in recent weeks. Televised reports showed North Koreans paddling boats to reach people stranded on roofs and streets as vast muddy rivers.
At least 88 people died, according to official government figures. The United Nations found that many hospitals were damaged and inaccessible, wells had been sullied by overflowing latrines, and fields of rice, soy and maize were damaged.
North Korea already had a chronic food shortage, leaving it especially vulnerable when disasters strike. Last year, the country got too much rain, damaging farmland; it already faced a shortfall of roughly 240,000 metric tons of food before it began suffering drought this year, according to researchers Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard.
Malnutrition is so dire that North Koreans are several inches shorter, on average, than their South Korean counterparts; the minimum height requirement for the military was recently lowered to 4 feet 9 inches, the Times’ Barbara Demick reported.