Friday, 29 April 2011

Anti-tank mine kills three farmers

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:02Thet Sambath

An anti-tank mine claimed the lives of three people and injured three others when the device detonated this week in Oddar Meanchey province.

Keo Tann, police chief of Trapaing Prasat district, yesterday identified the dead as Vin Lin, 25, Tha Tol, 30, and Mon Krit, 26.

“The mine also seriously injured two men and slightly injured one after their mini-tractor ran over it on their way to their farm,” he said.

He named Mon Kri, 22, and Van, 15, as the two men who were seriously injured, as well as Chok, 22, who was received minor injuries in the incident on Tuesday.

All the victims were farmers in Trapaing Prasat district. “We are worried for the peoples’ safety because too many mines were laid in our district during the war between the Khmer Rouge soldiers and the government’s troops,” said Keo Tann.

According to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, mines have claimed 11 lives and injured 50 others from January to March of this year, a total of 61 people. When compared to the same three month period in 2010, 15 people were killed and 47 were injured.

Sok Heng, secretary of Heng Ratana, director of CMAC, said earlier this week that the slight reduction in deaths could be attributed to education because more people are aware of the dangers associated with mines.

Lightning bolt kills three, injures dozens

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:02Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Three people were killed instantly and another 30 seriously injured when a bolt of lightning struck in Mondulkiri province’s O’Raing district yesterday.

Yim Dara, director of Dak Dam Commune Health Centre, said the victims worked for a Chinese pine tree company and were planting in Dak Dam commune when a storm hit.

“I think that this is the first time that so many people have been killed and injured by lightning during one day of heavy rain in the province,” he said, adding that the lightning struck during a two-hour downpour that began at around 3pm.

“There was heavy rain and strong winds, along with a lot of lightning in our province,” he said.

Yim Dara added that those who sustained injuries during the strike were rushed to the district health centre for treatment.

The deaths brought the total number of people killed by lightning strikes in the first four months of this year to 27, compared with 14 over the same period last year, according to figures from the National Committee for Disaster Management.

Last Thursday, a married couple, their son, aged five, and a dog died when lightning struck their home in Kratie province. A 58-year-old farmer also died when he was struck by lightning last Saturday in Kampong Cham province.

ACLEDA Bank credit officer faces charge

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:01Mom Kunthear

A credit officer from ACLEDA Bank has been charged with breach of trust in Kandal province following his arrest on Sunday, police said.

Eav Chamrouen, chief of the Kandal provincial police, said yesterday that the suspect – 28-year-old Oum Chea Socheat – remained in police custody and that the case had been forwarded to the Kandal provincial court. “I sent the suspect … to the court already and the case is out of the hands of the police,” Eav Chamroeun said.

Sin Chen, director of ACLEDA’s Kandal provincial branch, said the bank was still investigating the case and was unsure of how much money had allegedly been lost at the hands of Oum Chea Socheat. Prom Visoth, head of legal and corporate affairs for ACLEDA, said the bank was in the process of reviewing documents related to Oum Chea Socheat’s work.

“I don’t know about the amount of money that Oum Chea Socheat took from the bank because we are still checking the documents,” he said.

A local media outlet reported this week that ACLEDA had been taken for more than US$200,000 in the alleged scheme, though Prom Visoth said he did not know where that figure had come from.

ACLEDA president In Channy declined to comment on the case yesterday.

Land dispute: Threat to burn firm’s bulldozer

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:01May Titthara

Land dispute

Nearly 500 residents from five villages in Kratie province’s Snuol district, including those from the Steang ethnic minority, protested against a private company yesterday requesting that it stop clearing their farmland for rubber plantations.

Khuot Kit, 57, a representative of 480 villagers in Svay Chreah commune, said that Sre Cha village’s chief showed him a letter in December stating that Kou Keang Kratie Rubber Company had received a 2,000-hectare concession from the government last year. “They did not negotiate with us or find a resolution for us, they just bring their four bulldozers to destroy our cassava,” he said.

Kong Thon, a villager who joined the protest, said company representatives had come to clear the land in December but stopped when villagers protested. “If they do not listen to us and next time they come to destroy our cassava again, we will burn down their bulldozers,” he said.

Snuol district governor Iv Sophum said yesterday that he was meeting with villagers to find a resolution to the dispute. Contact information for Kou Keang Kratie Rubber Company was unavailable.MAY TITTHARA

Development ties: Delegation set for ADB conference

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00May Kunmakara

Development ties

Cambodia's delegation to the 44th Asian Development Bank annual meeting in Hanoi next week will be led by Ministry of Economy and Finance Secretary General Vongsey Vissoth, according to an ADB spokesperson.

Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem said in a press release that the meetings would aim to make practical contributions to macroeconomic stability, as well as “mitigating the adverse impacts caused by natural calamities and climate change and fostering long term and sustainable human centred development.”

The May 3 to 6 ADB annual meeting aims to discuss a wide range of topics on the economy, Asian development, and the individual state of the bank’s 67 members, the release said.

The ADB provided some US$95 million in loans and $65.8 million in grants to the Kingdom in 2010, according a statement from last week.

Cambodia joined the bank in 1966. However, the majority of the ADB’s involvement in the Kingdom - nearly $1.4 billion for 55 loans, $255.71 million for 21 grants, and $112 million for technical assistance projects - has come since it resumed operations in Cambodia in 1992.

Thai trade breakdown to hit Cambodia most

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Steve Finch

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s threat on Wednesday to cease all imports from Thailand may have helped further stoke nationalistic fervour as clashes continued on the border, but in reality Cambodia stands to lose out much more than its neighbour should bilateral trade collapse.

While Thailand represents Cambodia’s biggest trade partner worth some US$2.54 billion last year, the other way round Cambodia is but a drop in Thailand’s economic ocean making up a paltry 0.68 percent of the country’s total trade in 2010. To put things into perspective, Thailand’s food exports at a projected $28.5 billion for this year, according to the country’s National Food Institute this week, will be more than two times larger than Cambodia’s entire GDP in 2011 at just under $13 billion.

Although Cambodia continues to register a huge trade deficit with its neighbour – more than $2.1 billion last year – at the two border crossings that closed this week at O’smach and Choam Cambodia is the net exporter, according to reports from officials in the area.

Much of this trade from the Cambodian side is in perishable agricultural goods, and in most cases farmers do not have the necessary infrastructure to store or preserve their products, meaning they have few other avenues to sell outside of trade across the Thai border.

At other busier checkpoints such as Poipet, Thai exports far outweigh those from Cambodia, no doubt a reason why Thailand instead targeted O’smach and Choam for closure this week. So Hun Sen’s threat to cease all Thai imports would undoubtedly hurt companies across the border at the likes of Poipet and Koh Kong, while Cambodia could no doubt find other suppliers from the likes of Vietnam and China, as the Prime Minister suggested. But the reality is much more complicated with negative implications for Cambodia as well.

In terms of logistics, importing goods from everywhere but Thailand makes little economic sense, especially in the west of Cambodia given the geography and heavy cost of transportation. Also, many Thai imports are raw materials that fuel Cambodia’s economy, therefore ceasing imports in these products would cause huge disruption, adversely affecting domestic economic activity.

For example Siam Cement Group, a major investor in Cambodia, imports most of its products through Poipet, including building materials and fertilisers which are sourced by many builders and farmers here. So although closure of the border would hurt this Thai company it would also be detrimental to Cambodia’s economy. Simply replacing these products with those from Vietnam or China is not that straightforward – distribution networks take years to generate and expand, quality can differ and so too can the products available. The free market exists for a reason.

The net result is that while a decision to bar Thailand’s imports would hurt businesses there, overall Thailand’s economy would barely register a blip. In Cambodia, however, the impact of a bilateral trade meltdown would be severe, and not just confined to the border.

Given this reality, Hun Sen’s threat this week will almost certainly amount to very little. Cambodia simply cannot afford to close its borders to Thai trade.

Inventor hammers out a de-mining machine

Gary Christ poses alongside his homemade de-mining machine, The Peace Hammer, on his farm in Illinois.

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Michael Sloan

FOUR years of work on a homemade de-mining machine has paid off for “part time” Siem Reap expat and US inventor Gary Christ, with a new version of his apparatus shipping out from Chicago next month bound for Phnom Penh, where it will undergo field testing aimed at securing funding to roll out the machine nationwide.

Christ, who dubbed the machine “The Peace Hammer”, based on the way it pounds the ground with reinforced steel weights at up to 10 times the force of a human footstep, told 7Days the new version of his machine, which he first tested in Siem Reap, incorporates feedback received from the government-run Cambodian Mine Action Centre during its first round of trials in 2007.

“CMAC said they need something extremely manoeuvrable so I upgraded the machine with remote-controlled steering and lifted it onto caterpillar tracks to make it bi-directional. They like the idea and they’ve been extremely supportive of the new version.”

Cobbled together on Christ’s Illinois farm out of donated scrap metal and tractor parts, the inventor explained his machine works by using a hydraulic crane to lift steel weights at the front of the vehicle and drop them like hammers on top of suspected mines.

“The arm of the machine lifts the weights with hydraulics and holds it in suspension before it’s released remotely. Once the hammer hits the ground without detonating anything, it’s safe to walk on.”

The hammer mechanism, which is suspended from the front of the vehicle, is ringed with tyres which act as shock absorbers to diffuse the explosive force of any mines the machine destroys.

“Most anti-personnel mines contain around 200 grams of TNT. Once the hammer hits one and it explodes, this force is absorbed by the layers of tires cushioning the hammer. If it’s a larger mine and you need more impact you just lift the weights a little higher before dropping them.”

Christ explained his machine is able to travel across more difficult terrain than older de-mining vehicles which use a “flail” technique to whip the ground in front of the machine with chains.

“With a flail-based machine if it’s a heavily wooded or rocky area you’re out of luck, if you use the chains they’ll be caught on the all obstacles. My machine is more manoeuvrable and able to get into areas you couldn’t otherwise.”

After Christ’s machine arrives in Phnom Penh, it will have additional equipment installed, a bigger motor fitted, and undergo testing at the headquarters of de-mining machine manufacturer Development Technology Workshops before field trials scheduled for September.

Christ, who has been a regular visitor to Cambodia since 2001, said the idea of building a de-mining machine first occurred to him through his work with the Angkor Association for the Disabled in Siem Reap, and his ultimate goal is to see landmine victims using his device.

“The biggest reason I’m doing this is to employ people with disabilities in a job that will make Cambodia safer and give them the satisfaction of getting rid of landmines so they don’t hurt anyone else. After all, who knows more poignantly about what a landmine can do than someone who’s stepped on one?”

While the prototype cost only $2500 to build out of recycled and donated materials, Christ estimates the price of mass producing his de-mining machine will be around $50,000.

He said: “The next step is to contact de-mining organisations to hopefully get a contract to manufacture some for their use.”

Comic turns humanitarian

Former cruise ship comedian Ray Carr hopes to raise money for Siem Reap NGOs. Photo by: MICHAEL SLOAN

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Michael Sloan

FORMER US cruise ship comedian Ray Carr washed up in Siem Reap last week as part of the advance guard of the Humanitourism Project, a new initiative aimed at putting Siem Reap NGOs in touch with wealthy US donors.

Carr’s involvement in the project follows a colourful 10-year career as a cruise ship comedian, which at one point saw him invoke a failed defamation lawsuit stemming from an incident where he was disciplined for leaving an ice sculpture of a giant penis in the cabin of a co-worker.

Carr told 7Days his visit comes ahead of the arrival of the first group of 12 to15 Humanitourism Project participants in December, who will each spend two weeks working with NGOs in Siem Reap before returning to the US to fundraise on their behalf. “There’s a whole group of Americans with middle-to-high incomes who want to be involved in this kind of work but don’t know how to make the first step. We’re offering a conduit by bringing them over here and introducing them to the various NGOs.

“Every person who signs up is going to make one of these organisations their project for a year, and they’re going to be in competition to raise the most funds for their NGO.”

Before founding the Humanitourism Project along with Canadian documentary filmmaker Dick Tolton in late 2010, Carr worked for more than 10 years in the cruise ship industry holding a variety of on-board entertainment positions.

Before arriving in Siem Reap, Carr served aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, The Norwegian Gem, before leaving in February prior to the scheduled end of the voyage.

His departure has alternately been described on the online forum Cruise Critic.com by Carr and Norwegian Cruise Line officials as a resignation due to a personality clash or a termination.

When asked about his career, Carr explained he had served on several ocean liners in a variety of roles including as a cruise director, a management position with responsibility for overseeing all on-board passenger entertainment programs.

While Carr has not ruled out returning to comedy, he told 7Days his new job as a volunteer group coordinator is emotionally rewarding due to the role he can play in educating Americans about Cambodia and Southeast Asia.

“Many North Americans are uneducated about what took place in Vietnam and Cambodia, the atrocities, the genocide and the ongoing threat of mines. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we’re never educated about it. This all happened in my lifetime, I was alive when this was going on but I didn’t know about it.”

Targeting professionals aged between 25 and 45, The Humanitourism Project is described by Carr as offering an “education, not a vacation”, with participants asked to pay $1200 to cover their accommodation and travel costs while working with their chosen NGO.

While staying in Siem Reap, Carr said Humanitourism participants will commute to their chosen NGO using imported 4x4 vehicles, which Carr describes as a cross between a golf cart and a dirt bike.

Carr, who met with representatives from various local NGOs including New Hope, Trailblazers and ABC’s and Rice during his stay, said his visit was important in building relationships with local officials including the Apsara Authority.

At the end of his two-week stay in Siem Reap, Carr said he felt inspired by the work he had seen done at local NGOs, and like earlier visits to Cambodia, leaves with the desire to come back and help.

“I was adopted when I was young and I feel like someone gave me a chance, so if I can help someone else access the same opportunities as I’ve had … that’s very important to me.”

Spicy cocktails rule in jazz bar

Unn Sophary behind the counter at Little Pari’s Jazz Bar. Photo by: MICHAEL SLOAN

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Michael Sloan

AS the owner of Little Pari’s Jazz Bar explains it, her business sets two records: her bar is the first run by a Khmer woman in the Pub Street precinct, and it’s also the smallest in Siem Reap.

Tucked away in a little laneway, Little Pari’s opened in July 2010 after owner Unn Sophary decided to take the next step and open her own business after a career working at many of Siem Reap’s best known bars and hotels.

With a quirky interior featuring light fixtures constructed out of recycled Pellegrini bottles and furniture refashioned from recycled timber, Little Pari’s is a deeply personal project which Unn Sophary hopes will inspire other Cambodians to open their own boutique bars, too.

“I want to show Cambodians to think positively and that they can do something without a big investment. It’s the greatest feeling to listen to music you like and drink your own cocktails in a place you created,” she said.

As well as the d├ęcor, Unn Sophary said she uses jazz and blues music to set a relaxed mood, occasionally playing more mournful blues tracks early in the morning when she wants to clear out the remaining customers and close the bar.

“My Khmer friends can’t understand why I like jazz so much but I find it soothing and relaxing. It’s all about setting a mood and having people come and relax.”

Another idiosyncratic touch is the bar’s menu, which contains standard cocktails infused with Khmer herbs and spices, as well as some special drinks of Unn Sophary’s own concoction.

“I use lemongrass, turmeric and ginger to add different flavours to our cocktails as well as Kampot pepper and star anise. Plus, customers can design their own custom drinks with any of the ingredients we have.”

Owning her own bar also offers Unn Sophary a chance to display the fruits of her hobby – photography. The bar walls have become a gallery of sorts of her work.

Plus there is memorabilia in the form of childhood photos of her in her home village of Srah Srang.

“Some of the photos were taken by a family friend who first gave me the nickname ‘Little Pari’, and most of my friends have been calling me that ever since” she said.

She told 7Days she opened Little Pari’s for under $10,000 in July of last year after a career spent working at Siem Reap nightspots including Red Piano and Abacus, as well as Raffles Grand Hotel and the Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra.

After being asked to scout out locations and develop a business plan for a friend planning to open a bar, a project which never got off the ground, she decided to go into business for herself.

“In Siem Reap, when you go out to drink it’s either in a place that’s really expensive or it’s cheap and low quality. I wanted to make a bar that was affordable but comfortable to be in, something very personal, like a room in my house. My friends all say it’s different when I’m not here.”
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Little Pari’s Jazz Bar, in the laneway behind Pub Street near Old Market, is open from 7pm to 2am every day.

Right royal bash

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Michael Sloan

CROSS-DRESSING and cucumber sandwiches are the order of the day at a UK Royal Wedding street party being held outside Picasso Bar and Tapas this afternoon, Friday April 29, according to managers Dan Searle and Amanda Groves.

Searle, who moved to Siem Reap to run Picasso’s earlier this year, told 7Days the street party will see guests dress up like royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton before watching their wedding on the BBC over cucumber sandwiches and royal family-themed cocktails.

“In the UK it’s a tradition to have street parties whenever there’s a royal wedding. It’s a good excuse to get out and mix with your neighbours, and we thought that seeing as Siem Reap has a big expat community, we should hold one here.”

Cross-dressing is allowed and even encouraged, with prizes for the best and worst dressed. “Our attitude is the wackier the costume the better. I know Dan’s been trying on my dresses all week,” said Groves.

Revellers at Picasso’s will join an estimated two billion people predicted to watch the wedding around the world, with BBC coverage of the occasion starting at 3pm Cambodian time.

With over 5800 applications for street parties received by local councils in England alone ahead of today’s wedding, Groves feels the celebrations may mark a new era for the British monarchy.

“William’s the future King of England and he’s well-liked, so certainly there’s a lot of excitement about the wedding. Personally, I’d like Harry to become king because he loves a drink and a good party, although the whole country would probably go to ruin.”

With celebrations at Picasso’s stretching on from 3pm into the early morning, Groves and Searle have perfected a number of royal family-themed cocktails to give guests the energy to carry on throughout the night.

“Some of the drinks we’re serving include the ‘Prince William’ as well as the ‘Blushing Bride’, which offer an English-style twist on the traditional recipes for cocktails like the Monsoon.”

BBC coverage of the UK royal wedding will air from 3pm at Picasso’s Bar and Tapas, located along Alley West inside the Pub Street precinct.

Retreat into yoga

Kiwi yoga practitioner Rachael Lowe puts her moves on a client.


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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Nicky McGavin

THE Hariharalaya Healing and Retreat Centre, in collaboration with Phnom Penh-based Kundalini Yoga Cambodia, is hosting a two-and-a-half day Kundalini Yoga detox and health retreat on the weekend of May 6, at the Hariharalaya Centre near the Bakong Temple outside of Siem Reap town.

The retreat will be led by New Zealander Rachael Lowe, supported by Tonie Nooyens from the Kundalini Yoga Centre, and will focus especially on the respiratory system and heart and chest area to enable participants to develop awareness of their breath and control it, to strengthen the body’s capacity for managing stress and pollutants, and to improve posture.

Lowe, who has been teaching yoga since 2009, says that the retreat is for anyone who wants to join. “The beauty of Kundalini yoga is that we’re not about the body, but about synchronising body and minds. This is a journey of the spirit more than a gym class,” she said.

There will be a second retreat on the weekend of May 13 that focuses on finding sparkle through a program of gentle movement, exercise and deep meditation.

The Hariharalaya Centre, which opened quietly only three months ago, provides yoga, meditation, healing and learning in a relaxed, natural environment.

Guests can enter the retreat for a single class or for any period of time they choose, and select from a program that offers detox/cleansing/fasting, Chinese traditional medicine, creative dance and healing foods cooking classes.

The fees for the retreats are $300 for Detox and Heal, and $400 for Sparkling Existence, including accommodation and all meals.

Participants from Phnom Penh will be given free return transportation.

Contact Hariharalaya in Siem Reap for more information by emailing hariharalaya@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Registrations can also be made with Kundalini Yoga House in Phnom Penh on Street 322 in BKK 1, tel: 092 429 835.

Rural Prey Veng province mothers and children benefit noticeably from health programme

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Stuart Alan Becker

A MONTHLY distribution of fortified foods to pregnant and nursing mothers has caused noticeable health benefits among rural farm families in five Cambodian provinces, thanks to a combined effort of NGOs and government health officials.

After a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh, including a Mekong River car ferry crossing at Neak Loeang, the World Food Program vehicle arrived last week via a very deeply rutted dirt road at Wat Mesang, the local Buddhist temple that serves the village of Mesang and 11 other rural farming villages in the area, where an estimated 15,500 people live.

There, a few hundred people including mothers with small children gathered around and waited as local health officials, aid workers from the World Food Program and the Reproductive and Child Health Alliance prepared a table with a cooking stove in front of a pile of sacks containing rice and CSB, a fortified corn and soy blend.

A man with a bullhorn explained to the crowd how to cook the CSB, which everybody seemed to like, into a kind of yellow gruel and then each mother and child were given their monthly ration that included six kilos of CSB, 300 grams of vitamin A-fortified oil, 750 grams of sugar and four kilos of rice. The CSB can also be made into sweets and drinks.

The local health official on hand was Phleng Soeng, who said the local Government Health Center’s antenatal care programme has increased in popularity from about 50 percent in 2009 to nearly 100 percent today as pregnant and nursing mothers spoke highly of the health benefits provided in the village.

“Previously only 30 percent were coming to the health centers to deliver their babies, but now that has grown to 90 percent,” Phleng Soeng said.

He said the interesting thing he’s noticed in the women is healthier, fresher looking skin and babies with more weight.

“When pregnant and nursing women eat CSB they have an increase in breast milk,” he said.

“I’m very happy to see the improvement in the mothers and their children,” he said.

Phleng Soeng took time to offer his praise to the World Food Program and RACHA for providing the means for the programmes administered through his local office.

“We want more WFP support for this area,” he said.

The 2005 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey showed that 55 percent of Cambodian children under five were anemic and that 44 percent of women had evidence of anemia, resulting from deficiencies of iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12.

Aware of the data, the Mother and Child Health Program targets pregnant women, nursing women with children under six months old, mothers with children aged 6-24 months and children aged 6-24 months. The programme has been running since 2000 with participants including RACHA, the Caritas Catholic charity and Church World Service.

Local government health centres administer the programme either in cooperation with NGOs or through the Ministry of Health.

The objectives of the programme are to prevent and reduce malnutrition among pregnant and nursing women and children under 24 months old.

A period of 1,000 days is globally recognised as a critical time from the moment a woman becomes pregnant until their baby is two years old. If they don’t get enough iron, folic acid and other essential nutrients during this period the effects are irreversible and the child will suffer health consequences throughout his life.

The programme is called 1000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future and is recognised by international experts and organisations as the best investment a country can do for its population because it means healthy people who can work and think, and their lives won’t be dominated by illness, stunting and diminished brain function.

Education critical in addressing nutrition problems

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Stuart Alan Becker

A LEADING NGO involved in nutrition around the world, Helen Keller International, or HKI, makes education an essential component in any nutrition campaign.

“You need a strong nutrition education component,” said Zaman Talukder, HKI’s Cambodia Country Director and Regional Food Security Advisor.

“We are the leading nutritional education institution in Cambodia and we provide huge training support to other agencies. We have trained more than 15,000 community health volunteers in the last 10 years,” he said.

Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, HKI is one of the oldest international NGOs devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition around the world. Now active in 22 countries, HKI is named after Helen Keller, who was left blinded and deaf at the age of 19 months as the result of a fever. When Keller’s parents engaged a tutor named Anne Sullivan, Keller, age 7, despite her blindness and deafness, learned to read and write, eventually earning a degree from Radcliffe Collage at the age of 20.

She went on to a brilliant career – helping other blind and deaf people.

HKI has been active in Cambodia since 1998 and also works in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nepal, as well as other countries around the world.

At present HKI is working in Battambong, Prey Veng, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, and Ratanakiri provinces – with 10,000 households and 50,000 people.

Country Director Talukder says to address Cambodia’s nutrition challenges, fruit and vegetables are not enough – but animal sources of nutrition are important too.

”We promote poultry, eggs, pigs and goat raising – but bio-availability is not enough. We are promoting more than 20 different types of food intake,” he said.

Beyond just project implementation, Talukder says HKI takes a keen interest in the impact of the projects, in order measure effectiveness.

For Talukder, top priorities for Cambodia include reducing stunting and wasting in children through a combination of approaches including promotion of breast feeding and complimentary feeding.

A pregnant mother has to get the nutrients to deliver a healthy baby and then make sure the baby remains nutritionally fortified especially during the first 24 months of development.

“Women have to be involved in the decision making of the household,” he said.

Another key factor for Cambodia’s nutritional success is combining agriculture and nutrition, Talukder says.

“Nutrition is coming from food – and food is coming from agriculture. Both sectors have to work together. Health people should know the importance of agriculture and agriculture people should know the importance of health,” he said.

“For Cambodia, this is an important time for people to work together.”

HKI has a Homestead Food Production programme underway in Rattanakiri province, which is among the least developed provinces in Cambodia.

There are also Village Model Farms, which serve as places for training and demonstrations as well as ongoing technical support.

HKI is also working to improve nutrition in areas like Rolea Phaer district in Kampong Chhnang, a district with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

“Medicines don’t work well on a body that is undernourished,” Talukder said.

A contribution to a healthy future

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Nutritional deficiencies, also referred to as malnutrition, are widely spread in developing countries. The consequences are utterly devastating. For example, malnourished children compared to their well-nourished counterparts have impaired growth, more severe illnesses, an increased mortality risk or a lower performance at school. The most frequent forms of malnutrition are protein-energymalnutrition (PEM) and micronutrient deficiencies, such as Vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiency. Other micronutrients of concern are B Vitamins, Vitamin C and zinc. Often micronutrient deficiencies are combined. For example, in northern Morocco the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency in children is as high as 50%. Many of those children are iodine deficient too, indicated by a goiter rate of more than 80%. Similarly, there is a high prevalence of iron deficiency in Moroccan children, with 35-40% of children affected.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin A plays a pivotal role in reproduction and supports growth and immune function. It is important for the skin, the integrity of mucosal surfaces and normal wound healing. Vitamin A is also essential for visual function as a component of visual purple. The liver can often compensate for considerable daily and seasonal variations in Vitamin A supply. However, the liver stores of young children and mothers are often very low.

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the most common form of vitamin deficiency in the world. It is estimated that VAD exists in more than 70 developing countries. VAD primarily occurs in infants and young children. VAD is also increasingly recognized in women, and may account for most maternal deaths. Initial symptoms of VAD include increased sensitivity to light, dry eyes (xerophthalmia) and impaired adaptation to the dark (nightblindness). In advanced stages, ulcerations of the conjunctiva occur and eventually lead to complete blindness, particularly in small children.

A commitment to the coming generation

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Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Post Staff
 
Investment in the future
 
Our children are our future. They are curious, wide open to life‘s opportunities and full of hope. They need surroundings that offer them the chance to learn, play and develop into healthy adults. BASF is the world‘s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. BASF is a leading global provider of nutrition solutions. Food fortification is a flagship corporate social responsibility initiative that offers BASF the opportunity to address a humanitarian challenge in an economically sustainable fashion. Through its product solutions, technical assistance, scientific capacities and partnerships with academic and public-interest organizations, BASF is engaged in programs in more than 30 developing countries that are helping local producers, the public sector and civil society to reduce Vitamin A deficiency. In particular, BASF is committed to combating Vitamin A deficiency and improving child survival by
  • Exploring partnership opportunities to increase the intake of Vitamin A and increase child survival in targeted populations
  • Collaborating with partners to establish sustainable delivery systems which integrate Vitamin A with maternal and child health programs in developing countries
  • Collaborating with partners to identify areas of mutual interest in research and technology development
  • Collaborating with partners to promote policies and programs, overcome barriers and develop strategies to establish or expand the distribution of Vitamin A capsules, fortified foods and Vitamin A-rich foods that will contribute to the health, development and economic prosperity of populations worldwide.
BASF has therefore set up facilities, backed up by a dedicated team, to provide general and technical support for your fortification project. When developing new products, we cooperate with the food industry concerned to ensure that their requirements can be fulfilled as closely as possible. In these ways we contribute, together with our partners, to a healthy future for the world’s children.
 
All of them.

Methods of dispensing vitamin A

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/

via CAAI

Friday, 29 April 2011 15:00Post Staff

Finding the way to a permanent nutrition solution

Fortification of staple foods
Supplementation is often followed by fortification of staple foods and should substitute supplementation over time. This intervention entails adding Vitamin A to one or more widely consumed staple foods. Fortification is justified when widespread or blanket coverage is desired.This implies that VAD is extensive and not limited to specific groups or isolated communities. Coverage can include whole country or a region.

Fortification does not require people to change their dietary habits. Thus, the target population continues to eat the fortified food as a vehicle. The Vitamin A added provides low but constant amounts, so there is little risk that intake become undesirably high.

A large proportion of the population should consume the food vehicle, especially those at major risk of VAD. There should be little day-to-day and inter-individual variation in the amount of the food vehicle (staple) consumed. The food vehicle should go through central processing where Vitamin A can be added under controlled conditions. Rice, shorgum, maize, roots or tubers are the major source of energy in many countries, but these foods lack Vitamin A. In theory, these staple foods could be perceived as appropriate due to their widespread use.

However, they are usually processed and cooked at home, thus making it impractical or impossible to fortify them centrally under controlled conditions. Hence, the most common vehicles for food fortification are wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and salt. These staple foods are normally produced in large factories.

Nutrition education and home gardening
The permanent and logical solution to eliminating Vitamin A deficiency should be through modifications in patterns of food production, consumption and distribution. These can be done through the application of agricultural or horticultural and educational alleviation strategies. This is a long-term part of the strategy and should be started along with the interventions mentioned above.

Unions Threaten May Day March Despite Ban

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 28 April 2011
 
via CAAI
 
Photo: AP
A Cambodian garment worker speaks on a loud speaker as she leads a strike in front of a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Sept. 13, 2010.


“This is a worry and a threat by the government to the freedom of assembly and expression of the Cambodian people.”


Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a circular on Thursday banning workers from assembling on International Labor Day, May 1, but a coalition of unions says it will go ahead with plans.

The missive comes after the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union announced plans to gather some 3,000 laborers in Phnom Penh to mark the day.

Ath Thon, president of the coalition, said he plans to gather the workers in a march nevertheless.

“This circular shows a tightening on the rights to assembly and march, but up to now, our working group will follow the plan without changing,” he said. “Our assembly will not affect security and public order. The authorities have the ability to protect security and public order. I think the government should not worry about this.”

The march is scheduled to start in front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, near Wat Phnom, and pass by the Royal Palace and National Assembly, where workers will bring a petition for better working rights and conditions.

In the circular, Hun Sen calls for the Ministry of Interior, the national police, military police, city and provincial authorities and other government institutions to “take action” in order to maintain public order.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, which is under the coalition, called the order a threat to constitutional freedoms.

His union will not hold an assembly due to budget concerns, he added.

“This is a worry and a threat by the government to the freedom of assembly and expression of the Cambodian people,” he said.

The proposed March comes as workers face increasing pressure from food and fuel prices, while salaries remain low.

“We see the rising price of goods in the markets, particularly gasoline, making difficulty in people’s lives,” he said. “So we’re requesting the government provide a resolution for the salary of workers, teachers, government staff, police and soldiers, on balance with the market prices for them.”

Call for Government to ‘Step Down’ Over Border

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 28 April 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
A military vehicle with a mounted grenade launcher makes its way during clashes between Thai and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, Thursday, April 28, 2011. Thai and Cambodian military commanders agreed to a cease-fire Thursday after seven days of artillery duels killed at least 15 people, Cambodia said. Thailand did not immediately confirm it, but the contested border was quiet most of the day.

“...this government must step down to allow Cambodia to avoid wars and losing land to the west and to the east.”

Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy issued on open letter Wednesday demanding that the administration of Prime Minister Hun Sen step down over his handling of the border conflict with Thailand.

If the government cannot peacefully resolve the border issue, he wrote, “this government must step down to allow Cambodia to avoid wars and losing land to the west and to the east.”

His letter came amid continued fighting on Wednesday and ahead of a reported ceasefire between Thai and Cambodian generals on the border Thursday.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan called the letter a “desire for attention” that ignored positive surveys that say many believe the country is moving in the right direction.

“Even though he does not have the support of the public, who are the Cambodian people, he still confronts [the prime minister],” Phay Siphan said.

The government is pursuing strategies to solve the border conflict with Thailand, he said, and the government is working with Vietnam to shore up border areas peacefully.

Sam Rainsy claims the government is ignoring the Paris peace agreement, which ensures Cambodia’s territorial sovereignty.

Sam Rainsy said his uprooting of markers along the Vietnamese border in 2009 was a victory. He is facing 12 years in prison sentences of a variety of charges stemming from his accusations that Cambodia has ceded land to Vietnam.

Both Vietnam and Thailand claim they have not encroached on Cambodian land.

Cambodian Military Announces Ceasefire Plan

Reporters, VOA Khmer
Oddar Meanchey and Phnom Penh Thursday, 28 April 2011
 
via CAAI

Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
This three year old girl , Cha Sith, was injured during the shelling.

“Then an artillery shell hit the village and injured my hands.”

Cambodian officials said Thursday military commanders had agreed to a ceasefire, following a meeting on the border in Oddar Meanchey province, the site of heavy fighting this week.

The proposed ceasefire was announced Thursday afternoon by the Cambodian Defense Ministry following meetings between Cambodian general Chea Mon and Thai general Thawatchai Samutsakorn.

The military commanders met at the O’smach border checkpoint following the seventh straight day of fighting that has killed at least 14 people and sent tens of thousands fleeing their homes on both sides.

In Thailand, officials were careful not to announce an official ceasefire.

But according to the Cambodian Defense Ministry, the two sides agreed to immediately halt weapons fire, to keep troops in place without redeployments, and to create “a favorable environment for the civilians to return to their villages so as to win each other’s trust,” among other initiatives.

“Now, the Cambodian side has had a press conference on the ceasefire in Cambodia,” Thai Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told VOA in Bangkok. “Although Thailand has not received any official information on this, in Thailand there are clear responsibilities and orders of responsibility within the government and relative agencies about how a ceasefire should be addressed. However, on the Cambodian side there needs to be consultations with their superiors and especially the top person: that’s Prime Minister Hun Sen himself.”

Sansern said that all Thai troops were now holding in Thai territory.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed a ceasefire on the Cambodian side, but he said there were so far no talks scheduled between the countries’ foreign or defense ministers.

The ceasefire plan came after shelling overnight and into the morning. Three villagers were injured when a Thai artillery shell hit their village in Kouk Mon commune, Banthey Ampil district.

“Around 7:30 am, my family and I were packing to escape the village,” Chhum Souk, 54, said at the provincial hospital in Samraong town shortly after the explosion. “Then an artillery shell hit the village and injured my hands.”

A 3-year-old girl, his neighbor, was also injured, along with another man nearby.

Meanwhile, more villagers continued to stream in from the borders, joining thousands of refugees who have been staying in tents under trees and in pagodas and school classrooms in the town.

After the ceasefire talks, no more bombardments were heard in the area, and electricity returned to normal. Residents of Samraong said earlier that during clashes electricity, which is supplied from Thailand, was often cut.

Baan muang editorial (what about abhishit? does he use this fight to gain politic as well or not? STOP LYING YOUR SIAMESE.. One side could not make thing worse if the other side are good)

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

Civilians on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border will continue to suffer from armed conflict so long as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is unable to fulfil his political objectives, which are directly linked to Cambodia's stalled management plan for the ancient temple of Preah Vihear.

To gain more credibility for the management plan, the Hun Sen government has resettled a number of civilians on a disputed area near the Hindu temple, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The resettlement has soured relations between the two countries, resulting in border skirmishes.

Hun Sen has capitalised on this issue by portraying Cambodia as a smaller country being bullied by a bigger nation. His conduct has made it difficult for the negotiators from both countries to reach a lasting agreement.

In short, there will be no peaceful solution to the conflict until Hun Sen is happy with what has been reached at the negotiating table. As a political strongman, Hun Sen will not hesitate to use his clout.

Unfortunately, civilians on both sides of the border will continue to suffer from this seemingly intractable conflict, which has claimed many lives in recent years.

Govt waits to see if agreed truce holds

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

The government is adopting a wait-and-see approach regarding the Thai-Cambodian border fighting, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.

Christopher Riess, the chief executive officer of WAN-IFRA, presents an image of the Bangkok Post ’s front page to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday at the Publish Asia 2011 international conference at the Shangri-La Hotel. Witnessing the presentation are Akapol Sorasuchart, the president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, and M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, the chairman of Post Publishing Plc. PATIPAT JANTHONG

If the ceasefire agreed by military personnel at the local level holds, both sides can then begin to talk specifics in terms of military deployment and a return to normalcy, the premier said.

''We are hopeful that there will be peace and calm over the next few days to allow people to move back to their communities. We have to wait a day or two to make sure that it is safe for them to go back,'' Mr Abhisit said at a meeting with Asian editors during the annual WAN Ifra Publish Asia event.

He insisted the truce was a step forward as both sides will immediately contact each other if there are any developments. Such contact clearly had been missing during the past several days of border fighting.

''We hope that Cambodia will now stop, talk and get back to the table. We have got so many bilateral mechanisms that can work,'' Mr Abhisit said.

Mr Abhisit remained non-committal about meeting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the upcoming Asean summit in Jakarta.

''I expect him to be there. We will sit in the same room but I haven't scheduled a bilateral discussion with anyone. But I have always been open to talking,'' he said.

Asked why Thailand has appeared to be reluctant in allowing Asean to become involved in settling the conflict, Mr Abhisit replied: ''What is the reluctance of Cambodia to resolve the issue in bilateral ways? Who knows the problems better than Thailand and Cambodia?''

Regarding Indonesian observers, who have not yet been deployed, Mr Abhisit said that Thailand has accepted the principles of the issue and only a few technical issues need to be worked out.

''You have to be careful not to let the observers issue become a spark for a new conflict,'' he said.

''We have to agree exactly where they will be placed. Cambodia started talking about placing their group of observers in the disputed area. That is a non-starter because we will do the same and they will be in the same place.''

Mr Abhisit, however, confirmed that the government shares the same precondition with the army that Cambodian troops must be pulled out from Preah Vihear temple area before international observers can be brought in.

He said that in his opinion, the armed clashes have occurred because the border issues have become internationalised.

''Trouble spots are around temples,'' Mr Abhisit said, implying the heightened sensitivity occurs when nationalism is brought into the border conflict.

''Why aren't the two countries allowed to solve their own problems? The more new mechanisms are created [to mediate in the conflict], the more complicated the conflict will become.''

Heavy losses give Cambodia good reason to cry (ONLY ABHISHIT's GOVERNMENT SHOW NO TEAR WHEN THAI PEOPLES ARE DIE DURING THE FIGHTING ..SHAME ON YOU AbhiSHIT)

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

Cambodian defence spokesman Chhum Socheat did not shed crocodile tears to win sympathy from the world when he talked to reporters during a recent press conference on the Thai-Cambodia border clashes.

It could be true that heavy losses suffered by Cambodia during the border clashes with Thailand brought him to tears, and not the heart-wrenching drama in the Thai soap opera Dok Som Si Thong, as army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd suggested. Col Sansern earlier said that Lt Gen Chhum Socheat might have been a bit too impressed by Reya, a popular and artificial female character in the Channel 3 soap opera, which can be seen in Cambodia.

A highly placed military source said that when Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon telephoned Gen Tea Banh to discuss the prospects of a ceasefire after the clashes had entered a second day, his Cambodian counterpart turned down the peace overtures.

Gen Tea Banh told Gen Prawit that Cambodian soldiers were met with too much of a ''heavy-handed'' response from Thai troops and that a ceasefire was still not possible, the source said.

''A lot of Cambodian soldiers have died. They suffered heavy losses.

''But they started the fight and Thai soldiers had to retaliate,'' 2nd Army chief Thawatchai Samutsakhon said.

''If they shell us, Thai troops will retaliate by launching even heavier shelling,'' Lt Gen Thawatchai said.

Border military sources have said that if the Cambodian side fires one artillery shell, Thai troops will retaliate with around five shells. ''We launch about 200-300 artillery shells each day [during the fighting],'' a source said.

During the past two months, since the Feb 4-7 clashes with Cambodia in Phu Makhua, near Preah Vihear, Thai troops have amassed plenty of artillery shells, multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), and radars in the area.

Gen Prawit, while on a visit to China this week, will hold talks to buy additional 130mm MRL systems and radars from China at a cost of 1.2 billion baht.

After heavy retaliatory shelling on April 26, a day of few skirmishes, Thai troops spotted Cambodians collecting a number of bodies of their dead colleagues.

Cambodia reported that eight of its soldiers were killed on Tuesday.

Cambodian army deputy commander Hun Manet, son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, has reportedly moved back from his headquarters at O Smach opposite the Chong Jom border checkpoint in Surin's Kap Choeng district to 20 kilometres inland from the scene of the clashes.

Since the latest spate of fighting erupted, Cambodia suffered its worst losses during a battle near the Kap Choeng border on April 24 and 25, the source said. A deputy commander of Cambodia's Brigade 42, who was the son of a former Khmer Rouge military leader, was among those killed in the clashes, said a Thai intelligence report.

Cambodia and Cambodian soldiers have been dragged into a conflict not of their own choosing. Hun Sen wields complete control over them and he has already made the choice on their behalf, a Thai soldier said.

Thailand and Cambodia yesterday agreed to a ceasefire after one week of border clashes.

Suthep slates foreigners' Thai analysis

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

The government has no intention whatsoever of using the Thai-Cambodian border conflict for political gain, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday.

Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs, dismissed criticism by foreign analysts that the government might be using the border conflict with Cambodia to tout its political credentials.

Suthep: No gains politically

Since the latest border spat erupted last Friday, foreign media outlets have offered wide-ranging analytical comment on the cause of the fighting.

US magazine Time interviewed a public policy analyst who said the Thai army was using the security dispute to attract attention, command influence and seek a prominent role in politics.

Duncan McCargo, professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds in England, suggested in The Independent broadsheet newspaper that the border dispute was essentially the result of an ongoing struggle between Thailand's military, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.

The Foreign Ministry has been telling the world community that Cambodia started the border clash, Mr Suthep said. Thailand is not trying to woo support from other countries and is only seeking to explain the border situation, the deputy premier added.

He said Thai armed forces would vigorously defend the nation's sovereignty and that the country's defence and foreign ministers were handling issues with Cambodia in the same direction and they were not at odds with each other.

Meanwhile, the United States has urged Thailand and Cambodia to exert control and settle their border conflict peacefully through negotiations.

Kristie Kenney, US ambassador to Thailand, yesterday had a meeting with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House.

She encouraged Thailand and Cambodia to resume talks to resolve the border dispute peacefully.

Mrs Kenney said after the meeting that the United States wanted Thailand and Cambodia to return to the negotiating table and that the mechanisms within Asean might be helpful in resolving the standoff.

Who remains where angels fear to tread?

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

Silence enshrouds border villages in Surin, now left with empty houses and a few dogs and chickens to brace for the only punctuation of time _ gunshots.

A village defence volunteer scans the almost deserted neighbourhood of Ban Nong Khanna in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district after residents fled the border conflict. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

If anybody travels along the roads leading to the remote villages at the Thai-Cambodian border near Prasat, Phanom Dong Rak and Kap Choeng districts, they have to ask themselves, amid the air of desolation: ''Where have all the people gone?''

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department yesterday announced that 44 evacuation centres have been set up so far _ 35 in Surin and nine in Buri Ram.

In Surin, about 40,400 people have already been relocated while in neighbouring Buri Ram, 7,800 people have had to leave their home towns.

Villagers in Kap Choeng, whose villages are nearest Cambodia, have all gone. The government told them to evacuate because Cambodia reportedly fired Russian-made BM-21 rockets, PM's Office Minister Ong-art Klampaiboon said.

''Some dropped in villages,'' he added. Banyong Thongsisuk, of Ban Khoen Kaew Moo 13 in tambon Kap Choeng, is among newcomers at a camp in Kap Choeng district opened by the government.

''Now it's all the same in every village. No one dares to enter, especially at night,'' he said.

He recalled a shell attack on a house of his neighbour one evening, the final straw that forced him and his family out of the village.

''As he was going to eat dinner, the shell fell on his house. He was killed,'' Mr Banyong said.

Villagers in Phanom Dong Rak district also bore the brunt of the conflict.

While a few people who volunteered to guard their areas were given guns to defend themselves, the weapons could not always ensure them of safety.

''When we heard gunfire, we ran to find places to shelter, jumping in different directions,'' said Prasit Yingchoedngam, a member of a village defence volunteer team at Ban Nong Khanna Moo 4 in Phanom Dong Rak.

In Kap Choeng hospital, the wards are also deadly quiet.

The government has now decided to temporarily close the frontline hospital, relocating all patients and medical staff to Prasat hospital because it also faces rocket attacks.

''I don't know when the fighting will end. Nobody here knows when it will end. The people have fled and now even animals are leaving the villages,'' Mr Banyong said.

''No one can live there. They don't want to die.''

Leaders must stop the killing at border

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Re: ''Hun Sen urges ceasefire'' (BP, Apr 28). Prime ministers Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand and Hun Sen of Cambodia must do more to end the ongoing madness at the border. On Thailand's side not just people's homes have been randomly shelled by artillery fire. Schools, monasteries and even hospitals have also been hit. More than 40,000 people have been evacuated in Thailand. The same may be happening on the Cambodian side, too.

Leaders of Thailand and Cambodia must have direct talks immediately. This is not just the fighting between soldiers and soldiers. It is your express duty to make peace with each other for the well-being and safety of your peoples.

As Aeschylus, the ancient Greek playwright said 3,000 years ago: ''In war, truth is the first casualty.'' Hence, while it takes hotheads to start a war, it also requires wise and courageous men to end it.

CHAVALIT VAN
Chiang Mai