27 August 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a United States national who was freed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on humanitarian grounds during a visit to Pyongyang by former US President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Carter reportedly secured the release yesterday of Mr. Gomes, a 31-year-old American who has been in the DPRK’s custody since January after being arrested for entering the country illegally, and who was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labour and a fine of $700,000.In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General appreciated the decision of the DPRK to release Mr. Gomes on humanitarian considerations, and commended Mr. Carter for his humanitarian mission. Mr. Ban is also encouraging emergency humanitarian assistance to DPRK, which has been affected by recent flooding.Heavy downpours last week swelled the Yalu River, which forms part of the border between DPRK and China, sending water spilling over its banks on both sides. The floods have reportedly washed away homes, roads, railways and farmland and caused an unspecified number of deaths. The Secretary-General “has been closely following with concern on the flood situation in the DPRK and its possible impact on the already vulnerable humanitarian situation there and the funding gaps faced by the UN Humanitarian Country Team,” said the statement.