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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Itinerant field workers appeal to opposition for food aid in Kandal

Itinerant field workers appeal to opposition for food aid in Kandal

Farm workers say flooding in the province has left them jobless and starving, but government officials say further investigation is needed

NEARLY 120 families from Kandal province's Sa Ang district who work as itinerant field hands pleaded with the Sam Rainsy Party on Wednesday for food, saying flooding has left them with few jobs and no way to feed themselves.

Nuon Sokhon, a widow from Krang Yov commune, said she has few resources to support her six children.

"I used to plant rice and earned about 10,000 riels (US$2.50) per day. But now I earn nothing and don't know what to do," she said.

"There is no one to provide food for us," she said. "Others get supplies, but they don't give them to anyone outside their own groups."

That Samuon, deputy chief of Sa Ang Phnom commune, said Wednesday the families are struggling because they have no rice fields and that food aid to the area is administered largely by partisan political groups.

"Most of [the families] are temporary rice field workers, and when they are not needed they face hardships. This is their custom. When they run out of food, they ask for assistance," he said. "They are right in saying that food aid does not reach them because it is given to the commune, not to individuals. But this is not the government's problem. It should be dealt with by local officials."

Sa Ang district Governor Khim Chankiri could not be reached for comment.

But Sam Rainsy Party acting secretary general Ke Sovannaroth said the party would appeal to the King and the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) for relief but could only provide temporary food supplies.

However, Cambodian People's Party lawmaker and first deputy chief of the NCDM, Nhim Vanda, said the situation needed further investigation.

"We can't decide yet how to assist the families because we do not know the reason for their poverty," he said.

"Some of the families have lost their money to gambling, while others were cheated by politicians," he said.

He added that flooding in the province has not been severe this season and was not the cause of food shortages.

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