Waiting for waters to subside

Source : Khmer Times

Some of the flood victims with the aid provided to them yesterday by the Chinese embassy. KT/Mom Sophon

Thousands of displaced families have been left without livelihoods after flood evacuations

Kampong Cham province – Chin Kim Oeun is sitting in a temporary shelter here with her granddaughter in Peam Brathnos commune’s Thmey village after being evacuated from her home due to floods.

The 60-year-old said floods have been worse this year compared to previous years, noting she is among thousands of other villagers taking shelter in temporary camps as the water slowly recedes.

“This year there has been a lot of water compared to other years,” she said. “My house was completely flooded, up to our heads.”

Villagers affected by flood water receive donations from China. KT/Mom Sophon

Ms Kim Oeun added that the waters began flooding her village in July, making life difficult for her family and leaving her worried for the safety of her children.

Koh Sotin district Governor Pheng Sophal said 10,923 families have been affected by the floods, noting that crops have also been damaged and that one river bank collapsed.

“One child also drowned,” he added.

According to the National Committee for Disaster Management, floods over the past two months have led to nearly 20 deaths and destroyed thousands of hectares of crops across the Kingdom.

More than 3,000 hectares of paddy fields have been destroyed and 20,000 damaged by floods in the provinces of Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Cham, and Tboung Khmum, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The assessment of damage caused by the floods is ongoing, the ministry recently noted, hinting that much larger damage figures may be coming.

Local villagers here are struggling to support their families as they have been forced off their farms.

In Thmey village, residents have taken refuge at higher grounds in temporary shelters where some have also brought along their livestock and some belongings.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo yesterday donated relief materials to about 1,500 families in Koh Sotin district’s Peam Brathnos commune.

Mr Xiong was joined by CPP lawmaker Hun Many, president of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, as he handed out 25-kilo bags of rice, boxes of noodles, juice and soy sauce.

Mr Xiong said he empathises with the flood victims, noting that many of his countrymen are facing the same predicament back home.

“We understand the difficulty you are facing,” he tells hundreds of displaced families. “The suffering of Cambodian people is the same as the suffering of Chinese people.”

He added that China will always be there to help Cambodia in times of need.

“China is a good friend of Cambodia and I am very happy we can help you and the country’s economic growth overall,” he said.

Y Kunthea, 35, said she arrived at the District Hall at 7.30am to await the donations.

“I am happy to get this aid because we need it to support our livelihoods after being forced out of our homes and off our farms,” she said.

She added that she also ran a shop out of her home and was forced to close it, noting that her main concern was the safety of her children.

Koh Sotin district residents go back home after receiving aid. KT/Mom Sophon

“When the water rose up, we were upset to leave home and stop work, but we were most concerned about our children,” she said. “We were worried our kids would fall into the water and drown.”

“The water has subsided a bit, but a few days ago it was up to our necks,” she added.

Mr Many told the gathered families that the CPP government will always be there to help them when they are facing difficulty.

“We will always pay attention to the safety and security of all grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles and aunts in all circumstances, especially in areas prone to flooding,” he said.

“We know the camps at higher ground are not like being at your homes,” he adds. “But you have to be patient and continue to cooperate with authorities.”

Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo and Hun Many at the ceremony to deliver supplies to flood victims. KT/Mom Sophon

Mr Many also told the villagers to be wary of snakes set loose by the floods and to not allow their children to play in the flood water.

Back at her temporary shelter, Ms Kim Oeun said she hoped that once the waters subside, the government steps in to provide some rice seedlings to help villagers replant damaged crops.

“It is really difficult when the water destroys our farms,” she added. “It affects our rice, but also grass we need to feed the cows.”

“We have asked the authorities to continue supporting people by providing some rice seeds when the water completely subsides.”



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