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Amid Nuclear Tensions, North Korea Struggles to Secure Flood Aid


FILE - Workers recover cement blocks from flood-damaged areas in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, Sept. 16, 2016. Amid recent nuclear tensions, Pyongyang is struggling to secure aid for victims of flooding that occurred earlier this month.

FILE - Workers recover cement blocks from flood-damaged areas in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, Sept. 16, 2016. Amid recent nuclear tensions, Pyongyang is struggling to secure aid for victims of flooding that occurred earlier this month.

With North Korea’s latest nuclear test drawing global condemnation, the reclusive regime will likely face challenges in securing aid for victims of floods that hit the nation earlier this month.

Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, said in Washington Monday that the government has no plan to send humanitarian aid to North Korea at the moment.

“At this point, North Korea has not requested assistance from the U.S.,” King said. He declined to answer whether the U.S. will provide aid if the communist country formally requests assistance.

Recently, the North made a rare public appeal for international aid after deadly floods devastated the country. The appeal came a few days after its largest and fifth nuclear test.

Much-needed help

King said the North’s provocative acts like the recent missile and nuclear tests are making it difficult for international aid groups to raise funds for the recovery.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday the North carried out the test when the country already was suffering from the natural disaster. Seoul also has indicated opposition to sending humanitarian aid to Pyongyang.

FILE - Workers repair the flood-damaged train track between Sinjon and Kanphyong train stations, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, Sept. 16, 2016. Amid recent nuclear tensions, Pyongyang is struggling to secure aid for victims of flooding that occurred earlier this month.

FILE - Workers repair the flood-damaged train track between Sinjon and Kanphyong train stations, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, Sept. 16, 2016. Amid recent nuclear tensions, Pyongyang is struggling to secure aid for victims of flooding that occurred earlier this month.

Heavy downpours and strong winds accompanying a typhoon that hit the northeast region of Hamgyong province in early September killed 138 people, left 400 missing and stranded tens of thousands, according to the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in North Korea.

Millions in aid sought

Describing the floods as the worst in 50 to 60 years, the U.N. office launched an appeal for $28.2 million to help North Korean victims.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also reported that the country requires $15.5 million to facilitate recovery in the region, and it called on the international community to join in the relief effort.

On Tuesday, Washington warned of further action against Pyongyang for its latest nuclear test.

In prepared testimony for a congressional hearing, Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the United States is considering “possible trilateral measures with the R.O.K. and Japan in response to North Korea’s destabilizing actions.”

Lee Jee-eun in Washington contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with VOA Korean service.

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