Democratic People's Republic of Korea


Declining economic growth coupled with unprecedented natural disasters, including droughts and floods, have created a deep-rooted humanitarian crisis in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). In 1995, devastating floods destroyed a large part of the country’s harvest and worsened existing economic difficulties. The emergency led the Government of DPRK, for the first time in its history, to appeal for international assistance. At the request of the DPRK Red Cross Society, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an international appeal in September 1995.

Multilateral Support

Since 1995 the IFRC and the DPRK Red Cross Society have implemented a vast humanitarian assistance program.  The IFRC is one of three most significant international humanitarian actors in DPRK (together with the World Food Programme and UNICEF).  The IFRC team in the DPRK consists of six international and 12 national staff and has three main programs:

  1. Health and care, including water sanitation
  2. Disaster management
  3. Organizational development

The IFRC works in five of the country’s nine provinces and has the most extensive access to communities in need,  with an average annual budget of CHF 10 million.  

Canadian Red Cross in DPRK

Canadian Red Cross workers in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

The Canadian Red Cross was one of the first National Societies to be involved in DPRK.  Since 1997, through the support of Canadian donations and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canadian Red Cross has contributed to every disaster appeal for DPRK, and has contributed five senior aid workers to IFRC and one health expert to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Canadian Red Cross has also visited the country to report on the humanitarian situation there to Canadians.

Since 2007, the Canadian Red Cross has participated in a Cooperation Agreement Strategy that allows this organization to work with the DPRK Red Cross and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to address humanitarian concerns in the country. The Strategy also builds capacity within the DPRK Red Cross. This capacity building fulfills a long term development vision for the Canadian Red Cross’s engagement with the DPRK Red Cross: gradual insertion of development goals into ongoing humanitarian aid supply. As a result of this organizational development, the DPRK Red Cross is increasingly successful in community-based projects in the country.

The Canadian Red Cross has supported relief and development efforts in DPRK through cash contributions to emergency appeals and by supporting DPRK Red Cross staff members working in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.  Since 1995, the Canadian Red Cross has contributed $2.5 million to DPRK; approximately 80 per cent of this funding has come from CIDA. The Canadian Red Cross’s strategic vision is to maintain support for programs that address chronic humanitarian needs and maintain the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s public presence in the country.