Home Asian News Coronavirus Cambodians, Needs Support, Not Subsidy Goods - Radio Free Asia

Coronavirus Cambodians, Needs Support, Not Subsidy Goods – Radio Free Asia

A government plan to alleviate financial hardship by providing food and supplies at subsidized prices won’t do much to help people in the Cambodian capital area amid a coronavirus locked out because of them. There is no money to buy goods, sources said Thursday, a week after ordering at home.

Last week, the government implemented a 14-day shutdown of all non-essential businesses in the capital Phnom Penh and the vicinity of Takhmao in Kandal province from April 15 to 28 and requested 2, 3 million residents of the two cities are subject to strict curfew or, in some “red zones”, stay indoors except in an emergency.

While coronavirus makes little inroads into Cambodia by 2020, the country’s economy – which relies heavily on textile production – has been hit by a slowdown in export demand and a series of shutdowns aimed at prevent the spread of the virus. Migrant workers in neighboring Thailand also lost their jobs during the closings.

Last month, Cambodia recorded its first death from COVID-19, a year to the day the World Health Organization (WHO) considered the virus to cause the pandemic. Since then, 59 people have died and the country’s death toll has risen to more than 8,000. Authorities on Thursday recorded more than 400 new cases alone.

The sharp increase in infections prompted Prime Minister Hun Sen to issue the latest lockout order last week, but residents of affected red-zone districts in Phnom Penh and Takhmao told RFA’s Khmer Service that they have yet to receive any promised food or supplies from the government, despite the threat of arrest if they leave their home.

Residents, mostly workers in garment factories and workers in the informal sectors of the country, are asked to stay in their homes as part of the emergency order and indicate they are now face a serious shortage. The Commerce Department has recently started sending flat back truck “mobile markets” into the area to provide residents with access to food at subsidized prices.

But on Thursday, some red zone residents told RFA that even if the ministry’s plan went into effect, they would still be short of money to buy anything as they could not go outside to make money. or lose your job completely.

A woman living in the Steung Meanchey district of Phnom Penh named Keo Vanny said no one in her neighborhood received any aid from the government and many small room renters in the area skipped meals entirely or Only eat rice with fish sauce.

Most residents are scavengers, street vendors and workers, she said, who cannot afford food, regardless of whether the Commerce Department has established markets near where they live. She urged the authorities to provide aid to them before they starved to death.

“Nobody makes money because they are afraid of being beaten – when we see the sticks, we run away,” she said, referring to the police with baton wandering the streets to act violently against anyone who was hit. spotted outside of their home.

“My neighbors don’t have any money. He begged food so I helped him ”.

A worker living at a construction site in the red land also told RFA that he had no money to buy food from the Department of Commerce because he and his co-workers lost their jobs.

“I haven’t had any income in the past 10 days,” he said, adding that he turned to social media to beg.

Similarly, some taxi drivers in Steung Meanchey told RFA that they quickly lost their ability to support their families during the shutdown due to a home order and the need to pay rent and taxi rental. They also call for immediate help from the government.

Hem Chan, a 50-year-old driver at the Steung Meanchey Thmey market, said: “I have seven children to raise, but since I have to respect the government’s ban on tricycles, I have very little money to buy. food for them ”. area.

The government lacks a plan

Commerce Department spokesman Penn Sovicheat told RFA that officials were busy distributing food to the “poor” and others “unable to buy food” as directed by the government.

He said the ministry was selling food and supplies below market prices and “many people” bought rice, canned fish, instant noodles and water, which were then shipped to their homes.

He said: “We have experienced some disruptions in shipping food to cities due to delays in transportation,” he added that his ministry is working with the Department of Agriculture to come soon. assigning the distribution of meat and vegetables to the people in the red zone.

Vorn Pov, chairman of Cambodia’s Independent Democratic Informal Economic Association (IDEA) monitoring group, urged the government to sell food and supplies at even lower prices, as more people could not afford them. at current prices.

He also called on the government to allow people to sell some essential goods for their income, while at the same time providing social protection measures for informal workers, such as taxi drivers.

“I understand that the government lacks social protection support mechanisms to protect informal workers, especially those who run small businesses such as tricycle drivers during the shutdown,” he said. and curfew.

“The state has no plans for the economy, the daily supply of food, or interferes with the lenders. [to suspend debt repayments] in a way that specifically deals with the problems facing people with informal jobs. “

The UN World Food Program said in February that food prices were relatively stable in Cambodia indicating that the coronavirus pandemic did not have a significant impact on supply, but did affect demand, as “many households families have lost their livelihoods and income, thus limiting their ability to afford a complete, nutritious basket of foods. “

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Language Service. Translation by Samean Yun and Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.



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