Kem Sokha Meets With HIV-Infected Villagers in B’bang

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha on Friday visited Battam­bang province’s HIV-hit Roka commune, where he told about 230 people infected with the virus that the opposition party would seek more funding for their nutritional and medical needs.

Reports of the outbreak in Sangke district started to emerge in December, after more than 100 Roka residents tested positive for the virus. The number of HIV-positive villagers has risen to at least 272, with eight infected villagers dying in recent months.

The outbreak has been blamed on Yem Chrin, an unlicensed doctor who admitted to regularly re­using syringes and is currently imprisoned on murder charges.

Mr. Sokha told the crowd gathered at the Roka pagoda on Friday that the opposition party, which has previously requested that the Health Ministry create an emergency budget package for Roka, would continue to advocate for the villagers.

“On behalf of the minority voices at the National Assembly, we will request through minority leader Sam Rainsy to raise the people’s concerns to Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.

Mr. Sokha handed out packages to villagers containing dried noodles, 10 kg of rice and $25.

Chan Choeub, a 38-year-old mother of four, was infected with the virus along with her seven-month-old baby and her other children, aged 16, 13 and 10. She said her family was struggling to cope with the situation.

“I hope to see all lawmakers and government officials provide us with nutritious food and medicine,” Ms. Choeub said.

“I’ve just noticed that there is no political tension, so I hope CNRP lawmakers and CPP lawmakers will come together to help us and other vulnerable people.”

Roka commune chief Sim Pov said she was not sure whether Mr. Sokha’s promises would lead to an improved situation on the ground.

“He told us that the minority leader could help share people’s concerns to government leaders, but I’m not sure in which way he can help us more,” she said. “All we can do is wait.”

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