Cardinal Rossi, number three in the Vatican hierarchy, visited the Khmer Republic this week. He?
Cardinal Rossi, number three in the Vatican hierarchy, visited the Khmer Republic this week. He arrived on Monday (5th August) for a three-day tour to see at first hand the conditions in which hundreds of thousands of refugees are forced to live.
The Catholic Relief Service - CRS - has maintained quite a large relief programme among the ???efug???es in the Republic for several years, but in spite of pressure from its staff there, the Church has been reluctant to commit more funds, arguing that there are other countries in greater need. The CRS ??? for their part, point out that there are over one million refugees in the Khmer Republic, almost all of them in need of food handouts.
Food is very expensive and wages, when work is available, are very low. As many as fifty percent of the population are completely unemployed, and of those who do work, ninety percent are paid wages far below subsistence level. CRS operates a number of soup kitchens where the children, at least, are given a bowl of soup, gruel, or porridge each day.
Their meal is usually about midday, and this was when Cardinal Rossi paid a visit to a CRS centre twenty miles southwest of Phnom Penh. As he walked along the queue of children, they waited quietly and politely, obviously on their best behaviour. As soon as the Cardinal had left however, there was chaos, the orderly queue disappeared, and it was every child for himself.