Stranded Prey Veng Flood Victims Await Aid

After three weeks of sleeping in the open here, the villagers’ health has begun to suffer and food stocks are running out. Even fishing is offering little return, said Hom Tey, a 35-year-old mother of five.

“My children have colds,” she said. “My family has only two kilo of rice left.”

Ms Tey said villagers had not received any emergency assistance since the floods and no officials had visited the area, which took Cambodia Daily reporters a 20-minute ride by boat to reach yesterday.

“No one has offered aid to our families, no one sees our problem,” she said.

Many other families in Prey Kandieng commune have left their villages and sought refuge on the elevated embankment that is National Road 8. That road is quite literally a lifeline for most villagers, and hundreds of families were seen living in makeshift huts with their animals on the roadside yesterday.

Ms Nheam said small houses like hers and those of other poor villagers were completely submerged, adding that she had planted rice on three hectares of rented land and two hectares on her own land, all of which was now destroyed.

“I feel very bad, next year I have no rice to eat,” she said.

“Normally when we harvest the rice we pay back the rent to the land owner, I don’t know how I can pay it back.”

Ms Nheam appealed for help from the government.

“I want to send a message to the government: help us with food supplies, sleeping material and especially rice seeds,” she said.

Prey Veng province has been one of the hardest hit of all 16 flood-affected provinces. In the province, floods killed 39 people, displaced 16,000 animals and inundated 65,000 hectares of crops-a third of which have already been destroyed, according to the government’s National Committee for Disaster Management.

Prey Veng provincial administration chief Oum Bunleng said 70,000 families were victims of the flooding, most of whom need aid. So far only 2,000 families had received help, he said.

“We cannot help all the families at the same time, we have to select priority families,” he added.

“The government provided 200 tons of rice, but we need 800 tons more.”

According to the government, across Cambodia, 213,000 families are designated flood-affected and 11 percent of the annual rice crop is under water.

Floodwaters are forecast to remain high over the coming days.

Aid groups say most families have yet to receive emergency help, and they have criticized the disaster management committee for providing little information and coordination during what is becoming the biggest disaster to hit the country in a decade.

Only the Cambodian Red Cross has received government support and has added 1,700 tons of government-supplied rice to their emergency donations, which have reportedly reached 24,000 families so far.

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