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Flooding chaos drives families onto safe hill

An NGO worker talks to a resident in Kratie province
An NGO worker talks to a resident in Kratie province earlier this month after floodwaters inundated her property. SAMARITAN'S PURSE

Flooding chaos drives families onto safe hill

Recent flooding has claimed another victim, a child in Kratie province who drowned, bringing the total death toll to 30, Keo Vy, cabinet director at the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said yesterday.

While water levels are declining across the 12 provinces affected by flooding, the situation is still dire for villagers evacuated to safe hills in Kratie.

“This year’s flooding is more terrible than in any previous years,” said Srey Mai, deputy chief of Prek Kov village in Kratie’s Chet Borei district.

Mai said 168 families from his village had been moved to the Ta Khem safe hill because of the floods. Villagers are crowded together and finding enough food remains a constant challenge, he added.

“It’s been difficult living here since our houses were flooded, but the government, local authorities and NGOs have paid more attention in supporting us with enough supplies,” Mai said.

The scene at Ta Khem has been one of utter disorder, said Julia Henning, communications coordinator at Samaritan’s Purse, an NGO that has distributed food to more than 1,000 children on the safe hill.

“It was very chaotic,” she said.

Henning said evacuees are living without mosquito nets, proper toilets and enough food, while the safe hill’s lone health centre offers only diarrhoea medicine and salt tablets, supplies of which are both running low. The makeshift shelters raised by the newcomers – a mix of “tarp and sticks” – are far from adequate, she added.

“The cattle had better shelter than they did.”

Henning said the young were the worst affected, with many having to be treated for cuts that became infected because of the water and poor living conditions.

But as the roads are clearing thanks to lower water levels, supplies are finally coming into Ta Khem.

“The kids were all dragging their feet when they [first] came, but now they’re looking pretty bright-eyed,” Henning said.

In preparations for the floods, the government said earlier this year that it would provide human resources, equipment and 10,000 tonnes of rice and other foods, according to deputy director of the NCDM Nhim Vanda.

Despite the help, no one in Ta Khem is certain exactly when they will be returning.

Mai said he might stay another month, but he remains anxious. “I’m worried about people getting sick, especially the children.”

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