anlong veng town, Oddar Meanchey province – The annual rains that once washed away roads and helped defend this former Khmer Rouge stronghold are now preventing the arrival of food.
“There are widespread food shortages according to what we have seen,” World Food Program Representative Monika Midel said Wednesday, referring to 47 villages, five communes and roughly 25,000 people.
Residents do not have enough to eat to remain healthy, the WFP monitor in Anlong Veng district, Chhoeut Sarun, said. “You can see the people are poor here….Mostly they suffer nutrient problems and vitamin deficiencies,” he said.
WFP staged a donation ceremony here Wednesday for 800 tons of rice provided by Switzerland.
Midel flew in on a single-engine plane to a newly built landing strip to oversee the ceremony.
The rice, most of which had already arrived by road from Thailand, is being distributed to villagers as part of WFP’s “food-for-work” program, according to Chhoeut Sarun. Canned fish,
iodized salt and oil are also being provided by the program.
Peouy Sa Roeun, district chief and former Khmer Rouge military commander, said Wednesday that the timely assistance will carry the people over until September when the area’s rice harvest begins again. “Before the assistance arrived, people were eating bamboo and tuber,” Peouy Sa Roeun said. “Others traveled to Siem Reap to find food but the rains cut off the road…some families could not return.”
Ly Thuch, secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, attended the ceremony and dubbed it “food-for-peace.”