As world concern grows over the fate of Kampuchean refugees fleeing to Thailand, the authorities in Phnom Penh are facing grave problems within their own country as many thousands starve in a nationwide famine.
As world concern grows over the fate of Kampuchean refugees fleeing to Thailand, the authorities in Phnom Penh are facing grave problems within their own country as many thousands starve in a nationwide famine. Supplies of food and medicine have been coming into Kampuchea, but the quantities are not sufficient to help all those threatened by starvation and sickness. The situation is especially bad in the north-west of the country.
SYNOPSIS: This is the countryside near the town of Battambang, in north-west Kampuchea. Out in the bush, fighting still rages between the troops of Kampuchean leader Heng Samrin, and those loyal to the deposed Pol Pot. Meanwhile, in the villages nearby, another battle also rages ---against starvation and disease. For although international aid is now arriving daily in Phnom Penh, very little of it finds its way out here.
With the disruptions of recent years, food is hard to come by.
In the local hospital, the situation is even worse. The six-hundred-and-fifty people gathered here are suffering from general malnutrition, malaria, bubonic plague and typhoid fever. The hospital has no doctor, no electricity and no medicine. Nearby, thousands more are reported to be dying in mountain areas because they are too weak to travel for help.
These people are at the centre of a fierce debate over distribution of the food and medicines that are being brought into Kampuchea. For although the materials are arriving by air, a lot more could be brought in by road from Thailand--according to three American senators who have just visited Phnom Penh. The problem is how to protect the convoys of supply trucks as they travel through the combat zones of Western Kampuchea. Nevertheless, supplies have still been arriving in large quantities, according to Heng Samrin.
Nevertheless, unless that aid arrives soon, it may arrive too late for some of these children.