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DATE=8/26/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-237681 TITLE=NORTH KOREA ASSISTANCE (L-ONLY) BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES SAYS THAT RECENT FLASH FLOODS AND HAIL IN NORTH KOREA ARE LIKELY TO WORSEN THE FOOD SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY. LISA SCHLEIN REPORTS FROM GENEVA THAT HEAVY WEEKEND RAINS SEVERELY DAMAGED NORTH KOREA'S MAIZE CROPS AND RICE FIELDS. TEXT: THE RED CROSS AND OTHER AID AGENCIES ARE IN THE PROCESS OF ASSESSING THE FULL EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE. BUT, THEY SAY, PRELIMINARY REPORTS SHOW THAT AT LEAST FOUR PROVINCES WERE HARD HIT BY THE RAINSTORMS, WHICH DESTROYED BRIDGES AND HOUSES AND WASHED AWAY MAJOR ROADS AND RAILWAYS. IN GENEVA, THE RED CROSS EXPERT ON NORTH KOREA SAYS HE'S AFRAID MOST OF THE MAIZE CROP -- WHICH WAS ALMOST READY TO BE HARVESTED -- MIGHT HAVE BEEN WIPED OUT. MARCEL FORTIER SAYS THIS COULD WORSEN THE PLIGHT OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY SUFFERING FROM LACK OF FOOD. ///FORTIER ACT/// NORTH KOREA IN GENERAL SUFFERS A SHORTAGE OF FOOD AS A RESULT OF SEVERAL YEARS OF NATURAL DISASTER. AND THE LAST DAYS OF RAIN IN MANY PARTS OF THE COUNTRY WILL CERTAINLY NOT EASE THE SITUATION THERE. THIS, ADDED TO ECONOMICAL DIFFICULTIES, MAKES THE LIFE OF PEOPLE IN NORTH KOREA QUITE DIFFICULT. ///END ACT/// AID AGENCIES SAY THE FOOD SITUATION IN NORTH KOREA REMAINS FRAGILE. BUT, THEY SAY, CONDITIONS HAVE GENERALLY IMPROVED BECAUSE OF THE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF FOOD ALREADY BROUGHT INTO THE COUNTRY BY U-N AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL AID AGENCIES. THE UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND, UNICEF, ASSISTS MORE THAN FOUR-AND-A-HALF MILLION PEOPLE IN NORTH KOREA, INCLUDING 500-THOUSAND CHILDREN UNDER AGE FIVE. UNICEF SPOKESMAN, PATRICK MC CORMICK, SAYS THEIR EFFORTS THERE SEEM TO BE PAYING OFF. ///MC CORMICK ACT/// ACCORDING TO OUR OFFICE IN PYONGYANG, THE INCIDENCE OF MALNOURISHED CHILDREN APPEARS TO BE DECLINING AND THE SITUATION HAS IMPROVED IN ACCESSIBLE AREAS. HOWEVER, THIS HAS YET TO BE STATISTICALLY VERIFIED. UNICEF STAFF REPORT SEEING DECLINING NUMBERS OF MALNOURISHED CHILDREN IN HOSPITALS DURING FIELD VISITS THIS YEAR. ///END ACT/// MR. MC CORMICK SAYS HOSPITAL RECORDS INDICATE THE DEATHS HAVE GONE DOWN. BUT, HE ADDS, NO ONE KNOWS HOW MANY PEOPLE MAY BE DYING OF HUNGER. THE AID AGENCIES SAY THEY HAVE FREE ACCESS TO THE PEOPLE IN NORTH KOREA -- BUT ONLY IN AREAS WHERE THE AGENCIES ARE ALLOWED TO WORK. HOWEVER, THEY NOTE THAT MANY PARTS OF THE COUNTRY REMAIN OFF LIMITS. NOR ARE THEY PERMITTED TO GO AROUND AND GATHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE HEALTH AND NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF NORTH KOREANS. THIS, THE AID AGENCIES SAY, FRUSTRATES THEIR ABILITY TO ADEQUATELY HELP PEOPLE AFFECTED BY HUNGER AND DISEASE. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/PCF 26-Aug-98 7:37 AM EDT (1137 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .