Needs of Ketsana Victims Still Critical, Aid Agencies Warn

Areas affected by floods caused by Typhoon Ketsana last week remain in a state of emergency as water levels recede slowly and thou­sands of evacuated families are still stranded, aid workers and officials said yesterday.

Nearly 800 more displaced families had been located in Banteay Meanchey province and one man drowned while swimming in the floods in Kompong Thom’s Stung Sen district, officials said.

“We have located 790 families in Banteay Meanchey,” said Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management for the Cambodian Red Cross. He said the families fled from nine villages in Phnom Srok district in recent days after heavy rainfall in the Dangrek Mountains in the north brought floods to the area.

In Kompong Thom, Kratie, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces, water levels were still high but receding, Dr Sam Ath said, adding, however, “It’s still an emergency situation.”

“Tomorrow we allocate 3,000 emergency kits in Stung Treng province,” he said. An additional 4,800 kits would be handed out in coming days in Kompong Thom, Ratanakkiri and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Oxfam estimated more than 14,000 families in four out of seven storm-hit provinces have been displaced by flooding.

Stung Sen District Governor Hok Rin said a 28-year-old man died Monday in Srayov commune when he was pulled under by strong currents while swimming in floodwaters, bringing the total death toll related to Ketsana to 18 people.

German aid agency Welt­hung­erhilfe (WHH) said that it, together with NGOs CARE and VOR ORT, had located 6,459 families affected by floods in all six districts of Ra­tanakkiri province. WHH says it has distributed 63.5 tons of rice and 1,600 water filters and non-food items to the families.

WHH provincial project manager Chea Hor warned, however, that the situation for the families remain­ed critical as most had lost rice stocks and possessions when floods suddenly rose from the Sesan and Sre­pok rivers last week.

Villagers are now living off small emergency food rations supplemented by wild vegetables, Mr Hor said, adding that many families were living in the forest or had re­turned to their villages only to find their houses uninhabitable.

The villagers, he said, had not received medical aid yet. “I get information yesterday that diarrhea [outbreaks] have started,” he said.

The effects on medium-term food security might also be severe as harvests and seeds had been lost, Mr Hor said.

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