South Korea’s national church council has urged humanitarian assistance for people in the isolated north of the divided Asian country so they can try and cope with recent floods that have hit the peninsula.

In an Aug. 26 statement, the National Council of Churches in Korea said that in the North Korean city of Sinuiju, northwest of the capital Pyongyang and near the Yalu River, houses have collapsed, and 2458 hectares of farmland are flooded.

The council, which is based in the South Korean capital, Seoul, said that there had already been an acute shortage of food in the north and it called for rice to be provided to victims.

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, let them drink,” the council said citing Romans 12:20.

More than 5,000 people were evacuated as floods hit the northwestern part of the country, news agencies have reported. North Korea has isolated itself from the world and many of its 23 million people are very poor.

On Aug. 26, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that torrential rains and floods had inflicted serious damage on the Uiju city and county in North Phyongan Province near the border with China.

South Korea offered to ship emergency flood aid to North Korea, while China said it will also help its close ally as reports circulated that the impoverished country’s food crisis could worsen.

On Aug. 27, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released a map of a wider range of areas in the country that have been affected by the floods. They include provinces and cities in the central, western and southern parts of the country.

The church council’s call was made at a time of tension between the two Koreas since a South Korean navy ship sank in March with the death of 46 people. The government in Seoul says it was due to a North Korean torpedo attack, while the Pyongyang government denies responsibility.

But “sending food to the starving people as a humanitarian duty is obvious,” the council said in its statement.

On Aug. 23, the council’s committee on unification had met with delegates from its North Korean counterpart, the Korean Christian Federation, at Shenyang in northeast China.