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Protests over CRC flood aid

ROUGHLY 50 families in Banteay Meanchey province protested outside a ceremony organised by the Cambodian Red Cross to hand out donations to flood-affected families, questioning its decision to supply relief packages to just 20 families in each village across the province.

CRC president Bun Rany yesterday handed out “donor cards” to roughly 932 families during a ceremony in Serei Sophoan town. The cards allow those families to enter CRC tents and collect relief packages.

Residents from across the province staged their protest outside the ceremony. Villager Suon Moa, 51, from Kampong Svay district’s Kampong Svay village, said authorities in the district had created lists of prospective recipients beforehand.

“Families who got cards have relationships with the village chief and the authorities,” he said. “We do not have rice to eat, and no one has come to give donations to us since the floods hit last week.”

Fellow villager Meas Ny said she was perplexed by the selection process.

“I don’t know how the authorities chose the residents who received the donation,” she said.

But Serei Sophoan governor Um Reatrey said priority families were chosen first, with 20 families from each village across the seven districts selected.

“My commune chiefs worked hard to select the poorest families and people seriously affected by the floods,” he said.

He said that each donor card entitled the family to 30 kilograms of rice, a case of Chinese noodles, 30,000 riels (US$7.10) and other items.

Om Chantha, chief of the provincial cabinet, said yesterday that 596 families in Sisophon district had been forced to move to the sides of roads or to pagodas because of flooding, and that 350 families were forced to relocate in Mongkul Borei district.

“The water has receded very little if compared to yesterday’s situation,” he said. “Affected people will face many difficulties, especially with their health.”

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the provincial prison was still flooded, and that many of the 850 prisoners housed there were being forced to sleep on tables to avoid the water.

“I am very concerned about the prisoners’ health because they are now faced with many diseases,” he said, mentioning diarrhoea, colds and skin diseases as common ailments.



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