A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 8 October 2011

No aid for Cambodia flood victims

Reuters: Children walk through flood waters with the help of a partially submerged makeshift wooden walkway in Kandal province.

Pretoria News
South Africa
October 7 2011

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's worst floods in a decade have left at least 183 people dead since August and damaged nearly 100 000 hectares of rice fields, the government said on Friday.

Figures provided by the National Committee on Disaster Management show flooding has affected 231 000 people across nearly all of the country. Around 23 000 people have been evacuated to higher ground, and many roads and buildings have suffered damage.

Ma Norith, head of the committee's information department, said water levels on the Mekong River, which runs through Cambodia, remain high.

“The water is starting to dry out in most of the areas,” he said. “But whether the worst case is finished or not, we cannot yet say.”

The floods are Cambodia's worst since 2000, when more than 370 people died.

The government's strategy to help those affected has come in for criticism, with thousands of people still waiting for assistance.

On Friday the Cambodia Daily newspaper interviewed a group of 15 people, including children, who had been stranded on high land for three weeks in the badly affected south-eastern province of Prey Veng.

Hom Tey, a 35-year-old mother of five, said no government officials had visited.

“My family has only two kilos of rice left,” she said. “No one has offered aid to our families, no one sees our problem.”

Another villager said her five-hectare crop of rice had been destroyed.

“Next year I will have no rice to eat,” said 48-year-old Nhorn Nheam. “Normally when we harvest the rice we pay back the rent to the landowner, but I don't know how I can pay it back.”

The chief administrator of Prey Veng province said thousands of families were still waiting for assistance.

“We cannot help all the families at the same time,” said Oum Bunleng, adding that officials had to prioritise since the government had sent just 200 tons of rice, around one-fifth of what was needed. - Sapa-dpa

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