All scouts leaving South Korea camp as typhoon looms

The organisers of the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea have ended the event early because of an incoming typhoon.

All scouts leaving South Korea camp as typhoon looms
The World Scout Jamboree in South Korea has been called off early by the event’s organisers due to an impending typhoon.

Several countries including the UK had already left the international event, blaming high temperatures and poor sanitary conditions at the camp.

UK Scouts chief executive Matt Hyde said he felt let down by organisers and UK activities had been set back years.

The site had become a health risk, he added.

Attended by more than 40,000 young people, the World Scout Jamboree has been plagued by problems from the very start.

Hundreds had fallen ill amid 35C (95F) heat, with local media reporting that scouts from the UK were among those affected by heat exhaustion.

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The British group of 4,500 people, the largest in attendance, arrived at the campsite in Saemangeum near the town of Buan last week but were transferred to hotels in the capital Seoul on Saturday.

The US and Singapore have also already pulled their teams from the campsite.

World Scout Jamboree organisers said on Monday that the South Korean government will provide details of the planned departure and venues that will host those who have remained in Saemangeum.

Mr Hyde said the UK Scouts had raised repeated concerns but while there were some improvements it was “too little too late”.

Conditions at the site breached four red lines around a lack of shade, lack of food for those with dietary needs, poor sanitation and insufficient medical services, he added.

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“We feel let down by the organisers because we repeatedly raised some of these concerns before we went, and during, and we were promised things were going to be put in place and they weren’t,” he said.

“If you can imagine [toilets] that are being used by thousands and thousands of people that are not being cleared with the regularity you would expect, you can imagine the sort of things that people were seeing.”

Relocating 4,500 people has cost the Scout Association well over £1m which has come from its reserves, the chief executive said.

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“We had commitments to those reserves that will of course mean that we can’t now do things that we wanted to do over the next three to five years,” he said.

The jamboree, described as the world’s largest youth camp, gathers scouts from around the world every four years, each time in a different country.

Most of those attending are aged between 14 and 18, and 155 countries are represented in South Korea.

This is the first jamboree since the pandemic and was due to run until 12 August.

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