Proleung Khmer

Sunday, January 21, 2007

700000 Hungry Khmers

The Khmer people die on a daily basis because the rich are richer and the poor are poorer.


Release: United NationsFood Aid Cut-Off Looms for 700,000
New York, Jan 19 2007 11:00AM

More than 700,000 hungry Cambodians, mostly young children and HIV/AIDSand TB patients, will start going without essential food next month,and the situation is likely to worsen unless millions of dollars in new donations are received soon, the United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) warned today.

"Cambodia is one of the world's poorest countries, and these peoplerely on WFP's help to keep them coming to school and getting HIV and TB treatment," WFP Executive Director James Morris said, underscoring theseriousness of a funding crisis that has already forced the agency toreduce rations and cut the numbers of those receiving aid.
"We are very grateful to donors for generously supporting thisoperation thus far, but the money is now running out," he added, notingthat those affected include some 650,000 children on school feedingprogrammes, as well as 70,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS and 18,000 TBpatients.
"Food and nutrition are an essential part of the package of care forpeople receiving treatment for HIV and TB," Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director Peter Piot said. "Ration cutsjeopardize the effectiveness of these critical interventions."
What is especially dangerous from a health perspective is thedevelopment of drug-resistant variants of TB among patients who do not complete their treatment, with food aid a major incentive in drawingthem to health posts and clinics to receive a full course of treatment.
Those who fail to complete the course may well become incubators for new types of TB that threaten society at large. Treatment of suchcases, moreover, can cost up to 100 times as much as the originalmedication.

Since October 2006, a funding shortage has forced WFP to progressively reduce rations, thereby cutting the number of Cambodians eligible foraid, and delaying the distribution of food to those who need it themost. WFP now needs at least $10 million to distribute some 18,000metric tons of food to 1.1 million Cambodians until July 2007.

Donor support for the agency's programme in Cambodia has diminishedalarmingly since 2005. "Hundreds of thousands of children in Cambodiacount on the nutritious meal provided to them by the World Food Programme," WFP Country Director Thomas Keusters said. "We want torestore this needed food assistance for children, for the very sick,and for the desperately poor, but we can only do this with theimmediate and valued support of the international community."

According to the 2006 Global Hunger Index of the International FoodPolicy Research Institute, Cambodia is one of the 12 "hunger hot spot" countries listed as "extremely alarming," and with nearly 35 per centof its people living below the poverty line, it is classified as aleast developed and low-income, food-deficit country.

High population growth, low agricultural productivity and poor access to health services continue to hamper progress in human development andthe country ranks 129th out of 177 countries in the 2006 UN DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP) Human Development Index.


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