A heat wave currently bearing down on North Korea could have “catastrophic effects” on the isolated country, a number of charities have warned today.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies — the largest disaster relief network in the world — has said that scorching heats are causing rice and other vitally needed crops to wither and die in farmer’s fields.
The group added that Pyongyang balances on the precipice of a “full-blown food security crisis,” a situation that they say is only worsened by the ongoing sanctions imposed by the United Nations in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s allegedly ongoing missile programmes.
Reports say that rainfall has been non-existent since early July, while simultaneously, temperatures have hit a roasting average of 39 degrees. The next bout of rainfall is not expected until the middle of August.
Joseph Muyambo, the programme manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is widely quoted as saying that, “this is not yet classified as a drought, but rice, maize, and other crops are already withering in the fields, with potentially catastrophic effects for the people of the DPRK.”
In a country where approximately 70 percent of North Koreans have insecure access to food, “we cannot and must not let this situation become a full-blown food security crisis,” he said.
While the situation is dire, it is not entirely unprecedented. In 2017, North Korea was struck by another drought, which caused a 7.2 percent decrease in the amount of food being produced during the harvesting season.
It has long been argued that the international sanctions imposed upon North Korea have only but hindered the country’s already restricted access to critically needed food stuffs. During their much-touted summit back in June, US President Donald Trump promised Chairman Kim Jong-un major sanctions relief in exchange for Pyongyang dismantling its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Despite what appeared to be an atmosphere of goodwill between both sides, North Korea has since issued a series of condemnatory statements, with the latest saying that while it has begun the process of destroying nuclear test sites, Washington has only “responded to our expectation by inciting international sanctions and pressure.”