Floods, drought force thousands into unprepared Phnom Penh

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Originally published
Phnom Penh (dpa) - A wave of flood and drought victims have inundated Phnom Penh with NGOs blasting the city government for not providing basic aid to thousands seeking help, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

At least 30,000 people are now living in squatter camps around the capital, Lim Phai, director of the Urban Sector Group, told The Cambodia Daily.

"The migrants have no adequate housing, and the city is not working to give them anything,'' Lim Phai said.

The severe drought settling over much of Cambodia follows two years of heavy flooding and threatens to further damage already dwindling rice reserves, forcing rural Cambodians into Phnom Penh to look for help.

Despite the influx, city officials say they will do little to assist the needy.

Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara urged migrants to stay away. "If people need food, they should get it from their provincial officials,'' he told The Cambodia Daily.

The wave of weather-related refugees comes at a time when city planners are attempting to clear Phnom Penh's streets of squatters and the homeless.

City officials have said they are already beginning to carry out Chea Sophara's order to move the homeless ahead of the annual conference for the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), to be held in Phnom Penh in November.

The conference will be the largest diplomatic event ever held in post-civil war Cambodia. City officials say the homeless will be sent back to their home provinces with a small amount of food and money.

dpa cs rk AP-NY-08-05-02 2311EDT

Copyright (c) 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 08/05/2002 23:11:25

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