Gov’t Distributes Emergency Food Rations

Emergency food supplies have been handed out to more than a half-million people stricken by this year’s floods and drought—a move that disaster management officials said Monday will prevent widespread hunger.

“We already solve people’s problems, where before they were in urgent need of food. We’ve delivered rations to… 600,000 people,” said Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

This year’s drought was the worst since 1995 and followed un­usually heavy seasonal flooding, au­thorities said. The World Food Program earlier this month re­ported that hundreds of thousands of people in Cambodia need­ed immediate food aid to get them through until next year’s harvest.

Authorities Monday said it was still unclear just how much long-term damage the drought had  caused. They are still waiting for re­ports from three aid agencies who have been going from house to house in the countryside collecting information.

Looking past the uncertainty among some aid officials, Nhim Vanda said he was satisfied with the relief effort and the fact that Cambodia has been able to avoid making an international appeal for aid.

“The rice harvest is coming up soon, beginning this month through January. We are waiting for that harvest to fill the food de­mand,” Nhim Vanda said.

Still, Nhim Vanda admitted that authorities are still worried that the drought and yearly floods destroyed a lot of seed rice.

“The food shortage can take us longer term into the next year. We don’t know how much we will lack,” he said.

Despite the damage from the floods, aid agencies and the government have congratulated them­selves on their rapid re­sponse to the twin disasters.

Speaking in Kandal province Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen took credit for the relief.

“The interventions for a solution have also been made. We can say that now Hun Sen is here, it is known that there are rice fields, canals, dikes and streams,” the premier said.

Hun Sen also made reference to opposition party leader Sam Rainsy’s hunger strike during last week’s Asean Summit.

“We won’t let anyone die of starvation,” the premier said. “This order is effective for someone who wants to eat. But one person who has rice to eat staged a hunger strike.”



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