A Boeing 747 cargo jet was loaded Wednesday with 75 tons of supplies, including medicines, water filtration equipment, tools, blankets, and 1,000 rolls of heavy-duty plastic sheeting to build emergency shelters for thousands of families.
The jet is scheduled to leave Charlotte shortly after midnight on Thursday, Aug. 30, and land in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK, on Aug. 31.
The DPRK is suffering its worst flooding in decades. About 240,000 homes have been destroyed, some 600 people are dead or missing, and large portions of the nation’s crops have been destroyed.
Flights from the United States to the DPRK are not usually permitted because of the lack of diplomatic relations between the countries.
“In spite of the political differences that divide our two countries, we need to do all we can to care for the people of the DPRK,” said Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.
“We are praying for the people and we pledge to do all we can in the Name of Jesus Christ to extend a hand of friendship and practical assistance to them during this time of suffering.”
BGEA’s longstanding relations with the DPRK helped make the trip possible. Billy Graham visited North Korea in 1992 and 1994, meeting the late leader General Kim Il Sung. Ruth Graham attended high school in Pyongyang in the 1930s, when her parents were medical missionaries in China.
More recently, Franklin Graham traveled to Pyongyang in 2000 to meet with the DPRK’s foreign minister.
The airlift includes antibiotics and other medicines that can be used to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases and will be accompanied by a team from Samaritan’s Purse, which includes a doctor as well as staff members who are experienced in mass-producing emergency shelters in devastated communities. The plane is carrying enough plastic to build shelters for 7,000 families.