Hunger Battled in Ex-KR Area

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.”

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