THE ongoing seige at Kraya commune threatens to create a health crisis, villagers warned on Thursday.
“Now we have health problems such as diarrhoea because we don’t have any rice to eat, so we have to resort to dried cassava,” said Lam Leoung, 52.
Medical supplies in the besieged village have also become a problem, villagers said. “We still have some medicines that NGOs have given us, but we need more medicine for treatment. People’s health is worse now because of the cool season,” Lam Leoung said.
Pleas to lift the blockade, which has penned residents in since a clash with military police on November 16, have fallen on deaf ears. The blockade was set up after villagers torched vehicles in protest of their looming eviction by Tin Bean, a Vietnamese rubber firm that was granted the 8,000-hectare plot in 2007. Seven people have been arrested.
Many villagers have sought refuge in the nearby cassava fields, fearing their homes will be burned to the ground. The date for the eviction has been delayed until next week, but supplies are increasingly scarce. Mong Saroeun, 45, usually sells medicine from home. “Before, people in this village could depend on my house for soup and medicine, but now I’ve had to close because the supplies are gone and I can’t go buy any more,” she said.
Am Sam Ath, a Licadho researcher based in the village, said: “Even thought they have a conflict with the authorities, the authorities still have to allow doctors to treat them because health is the first priority.”
Pich Sophea, Santuk district governor, refused to respond to calls for lifting the blockade on Thursday, saying only: “I don’t know yet.”