Water Shortage Continuing but Improving, Prison Says

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison director Nuon Vanna said yesterday his prison is still short of water but that conditions are improving.

Mr Vanna announced last week that shortage of water from nearby Serei Saophoan city had left prisoners unable to wash, causing skin irritation among a third of the prison’s 772 detainees.

“We are solving this problem to make it better,” he said yesterday. “Provincial authorities are solving this problem very quickly.”

While Mr Vanna could not provide new figures, he said fewer inmates were suffering from skin irritation thanks to the aid of the Health Ministry, which he said has begun segregating affected inmates, and that a new water pump was allowing them to draw water from an on-site pond.

“We have provided medical treatment for some of the prisoners suffering with their skin so they don’t affect other prisoners, and we have added one pump machine,” he said. “Now several more prisoners continue to receive treatment.”

Serei Saophoan City Governor Oum Reatrey, meanwhile, reiterated that he was unaware of the situation yesterday.

“I have not heard any broadcast on the radio about what is happening at the provincial prison yet,” said Mr Reatrey.

“We have provided running water very well for Serei Saophoan city,” he added. Provincial Governor Ung Oeun could not be reached yesterday.

Provincial cabinet chief Keo Rattanak, however, conceded there was a water shortage, but insisted that it had lasted only a few days and downplayed its effects.

“It isn’t a problem because we provided medical care with the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Heng Hak, director-general for prisons at the Interior Ministry, said the water shortage had nothing to with the reports of skin irritation.

“The suffering of their skin is not caused by a lack of water at all,” he said. “It is because of a change in weather, a new building releasing vapors from the cement and also a lack of hygiene.”


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