Mercy Corps and DHL deliver medicine to flood-affected North Korean families

North Korea, September 6, 2007

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    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Almost a million North Koreans, including tens of thousands of children, are at risk from waterborne diseases after catastrophic flooding. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

The express and logistics company DHL is generously providing a very substantial contribution to cover shipping expenses for urgently-needed medicines headed to North Korea. Mercy Corps is sending nearly $13 million worth of medicines to the flood-wracked country to assist in its relief efforts.

The shipment arrived in North Korea's capital city, Pyongyang, on Saturday.

"DHL is an essential partner in moving these items into the flood zone," said Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg. "Thanks to them, we'll be able to reach more people faster with lifesaving supplies."

Mercy Corps is sending more than $12.5 million of pharmaceuticals from Amsterdam, The Netherlands provided through private donations, and DHL is helping speed these supplies into North Korea. The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance, has given a $50,000 grant to the agency to fund the purchase of additional antibiotics. Nike has also donated more than $255,000 in clothing, and is generously covering the transportation costs for these goods.

"Together with Mercy Corps and our DHL colleagues around the globe, we have successfully coordinated and delivered supplies to help support the flood relief efforts," said Scott Price, CEO of DHL Express - Europe. "We are joined by a common purpose to alleviate the difficulties faced by vulnerable communities."

The support from DHL will allow Mercy Corps to bring some relief to a country deluged with heavy rain. According to the United Nations, close to one million people have been affected by the floods and at least 11 percent of the country's farmlands have been inundated or washed away.

Waterborne illnesses often run rampant after major floods, creating major health problems. The items on this shipment have been specifically requested from local representatives in North Korea.

A team of four Mercy Corps staff arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday to help hand-deliver these medicines. The agency will work with its in-country partners to target flood-affected communities in areas such as South Pyongang province, where Mercy Corps has ongoing coordination of food security programs, as well as other hard-hit provinces such as North Pyongang, North Hwanghea and Kwangwon do.

Mercy Corps has worked with vulnerable North Korean families and communities since 1996, striving to help meet health and nutritional needs as well as collaborating on long-term agricultural and economic solutions. The organization's co-founder, Ells Culver, reached out to the North Korean people after the country suffered years of drought, flooding and food shortages. That diplomacy has led to an extraordinary partnership that includes farmer exchanges between North Korea and the United States' Pacific Northwest.

Over the course of more than 20 visits to North Korea, Culver repeatedly demonstrated his belief that caring assistance would lead to positive change.