ABOUT 60,000 people forced out of their homes by war could face starvation in
Siem Reap in the near future as their food threatens to run out, according to
the human rights group LICADHO.
The people had receive little help since
November except the World Food Program's donation of 300 tons of rice, said
LICADHO volunteer consultant Ghislain de Mareuil, who visited Siem Reap refugee
camps in late December.
Two hundred tons of that had been distributed and
the remainder being kept till it was absolutely necessary to use it.
refugees had also received rice from local villagers in return for helping them
to harvest their crops.
Most NGOs and United Nations agencies, meanwhile,
had reduced their assistance for the refugees because of a lack of cooperation
from provincial authorities.
All the provincial officials had provided to
the homeless people was plastic covers for them to erect makeshift tents with,
The government had meanwhile established an Internally Displaced
People (IDP) Committee, but so far it had done little to offer any
The villagers had fled their villages, many of them around Angkor
Chum, Varin, Angkor Thom and Pourk, because of Khmer Rouge shelling and bombing
Most had had only one day to prepare to leave, taking
only a few possessions and not having time to harvest their rice
They were also suffering from a lack of education and health
World Food Program official Martin Fisher said 15 kg of rice
had been given to each refugee to last them 40 days.
A Cambodian Red
Cross official in Siem Reap said that many of the refugees were now collected in
two camps in Chambak Hea and Pourk districts, about 14km northwest of Siem Reap
The Australian government, meanwhile, had committed another 10,000
tones of rice to the World Food program for 1995. The Aust$5.4 million purchase
will be delivered early this year and used both for rehabilitation programs and
WFP director Kenro Oshidari said the Australian
donation was in immediate response the Cambodian government's global appeal for
help following the widespread failure of this year's rice crop.
Australian donation will be administered through the WFP's Food for World
program. Villagers will rebuild and renovate flood-damaged dikes, canals roads
and ponds and build rice banks, Oshidari said.
concur with the government's estimate of 350,000 tones of rice lost in this
year's harvest to flood and drought.
The pain has been exacerbated by the
huge numbers of IDPs fleeing fighting - especially in the Siem Reap area - and
the thousands of Khmer Rouge defectors and family who are coming down from the
north with nothing, needing food themselves.