North Korea on verge of famine

 A typhoon which swept the east coast of North Korea in August and September has left the country with grave food shortages, CAFOD warns this week. The storms destroyed homes and roads and caused serious crop damage, they said. The agency's emergency co-financing officer Tim Aldred has just returned from the internationally isolated Communist state. He said: "The scale of the destruction is dramatic. More than 10,000 people have been made homeless. At least a thousand miles of road have been washed away leaving communities isolated. Repair work has begun with thousands of people mobilised to help rebuild the roads but they have no heavy machinery- only shovels and picks. It will take months." He said many communities that have been cut off are dependent on external food aid so it is vital the roads are repaired quickly. North Korea has suffered chronic food shortages for the last five years and a drought this year means the harvest was expected to be poor again. But this latest disaster has made matters much worse. Aldred said: "I saw fields of maize flattened and the walls of paddy fields washed away. Most of the damage though is hidden. If you take an apparently healthy stalk of rice, as much as forty per cent of the kernel can be gone. There is going to be a need for an increase of food aid next years." During his visit Aldred visited a hospital and saw many babies and children suffering from malnutrition. If you would like to contribute to CAFOD's work in North Korea visit their website through our links page.

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