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Despair in Cambodia amid COVID closure | Coronavirus News Plague


Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Iv Sovann has been working with his family in the Cambodian capital in Phnom Penh since April 5 when the government introduced a number of emergency remedies for coronavirus.

The 36-year-old family of 36 has no money.

Her husband, a teacher, lost his job at the school where he worked last year.

Sovann has been supporting the entire family by working as an accountant for a private transportation company.

“We are not rich. We live from door to door. If we were as rich as others, it would be better for us to be isolated for a whole year, ”he said.

Lacking food, this week they were part of a group of people in Phnom Penh district in Stueng Meanchey who took things for themselves.

“We saw some people taking food like rice nuts and canned fish, and we didn’t find anything. That’s why we went to ask for food, “he said.

People carrying sacks of rice and other food supplies provided by the government in the red and closed areas in Phnom Penh [Cindy Liu/Reuters]

His protest received Iv Sovann’s 25kg sack (55 pounds) from the local government but some did not take part.

“There are also many other families,” he said. I do not know why some accept donations, and why some do not. ”

‘Make up stories’

Cambodia has been battling the dangerous spread of COVID-19 since the epidemic began last year and has imposed stricter laws, with the help of fines and prisons, in Phnom Penh and several other areas to curb the spread of the virus.

The country has reported more than 13,000 cases and more than 90 deaths in less than three months.

Authorities have designated areas with high crime rates as “red areas”.

In these districts – home to about 300,000 people – rural people cannot afford to leave their homes without medical assistance.

The government has promised to provide food to the area, and has prevented aid groups from entering the red zone to provide assistance, but its efforts have failed, leaving thousands in despair.

Vorn Pao, President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), says he receives hundreds of messages from its members every day asking for help. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 members of the organization’s 14,000 nationwide are malnourished, especially those in the “red zone”.

“[We] they are starving, ”he told Al Jazeera.

“We are appealing to the government to help us [food] without prejudice. ”

On Friday, Amnesty International called on the government to allow government agencies to provide assistance to those facing food shortages, warning that Cambodia is facing dire consequences due to the rising tide of disease, all linked to various B.1.1.7.

“The Cambodian government has committed atrocities in the case of COVID-19. The closure of the country is causing a lot of problems and human rights abuses across the country,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s regional director for Asia-Pacific.

“Meanwhile, people living in the ‘red zone’ and others in Cambodia are starving because of vague ideas.”

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the government, was outraged by Amnesty’s criticism.

The pardon “does not know Cambodia”, he said, calling those who told Al Jazeera no food “false”.

“We help them; we read about regions that have their status, ”he said.

“Look at [them]. They just make up the story. I will not see. ”

When questioned again, he repeated it twice.

“He’s lying,” he said. “Tell those who have no food. Text me a [addresses] of those who have no food. I’ll get food to send them right away. ”

Local and international organizations have appealed to the government to allow them to travel to the red zone to help the needy.

“The government should urgently provide opportunities for non-governmental organizations and UN agencies that are ready to provide basic medical care, food, and other basic services in the region,” said Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, Cambodia’s leading agency.

A police officer inspects a bridge in Phnom Penh. Its capital is one of Cambodia’s most prone areas in the wake of coronavirus cases. [File: Mak Remissa/EPA]

Forgiveness was accompanied by a request for forgiveness.

“Everyone who is not detained should be given access to adequate food, water, health care and other basic necessities,” Mishra said in a statement.

Food is cut

Workers in the construction industry, the clothing industry, in the workplace and in the private sector have been hit hard by the closure, which has forced the closure of all markets in Phnom Penh where many people buy food.

Ou Virak, President of the Future Forum, a critical thinker on public service issues, says the government can reduce its decline by making existing COVID-19 chains safer, rather than just shutting them down.

“I think [government] they should allow the existing markets to open, but make sure they are not too close, ”he said.

In doing so, the government not only helps people in need of food, but also farmers who are struggling to find a market for their produce.

“Shutting down the market is a very risky move,” said Ou Virak. Even if you have money, you cannot buy food. ”

Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning the government have been made more than once.

“To date, we have not heard of any starvation or malnutrition since the government, the Red Cross and philanthropists have assisted people everywhere, especially those living in the red zone,” he said.

Cambodia expands its vaccination campaign, starting with those in the top 18, “ red areas ” in the country [Mak Remissa/EPA]

In the midst of these new threats, the country has intensified its vaccination efforts and prioritized people living in red areas. More than 1.3 million people in 15 million countries have received one coronavirus vaccine.

‘Zero tolerance’

But it also relied on other means of punishment to reduce the spread of the virus.

In March, the government introduced a new COVID-19 law that would impose a $ 5,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison for violators. Cambodia earns about $ 550 a month.

The United Nations has called on the government to amend the law, calling it “unlimited”.

According to Licadho, officers arrested 258 people in accordance with COVID-19. Of these, 83 were convicted, imprisoned and imprisoned. Last month, a district court sentenced four people to one year in prison for dancing and drinking.

“The health crisis is not the time to send more people to overcrowded prisons in Cambodia,” said Naly Pilorge.

“The COVID-19 Act should be repealed, and those arrested and sentenced to torture in prison in accordance with this law should be released immediately.

“Authorities need to focus on establishing a vaccine for vulnerable people, providing security measures for those in need, and ensuring that food, medicine and other basic necessities of about 300,000 people are confined to the red capital.”

People waiting to be tested in the red zone and ways to prevent new outbreaks of coronavirus in Phnom Penh [File: Cindy Liu/Reuters]

Sok Eysan, however, has not changed.

He said the government would introduce a system to tolerate those who violate the COVID-19 law, while trying to stop the spread of the virus.

“Those who violate the principle of this [COVID] the law in any case must be consistent before the law, ”he said.


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