A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
International humanitarian agency Oxfam announced today that Cambodia is still in emergency relief mode though flood waters in some areas are beginning to stabilize. Affected populations are in need of food, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, water filters and water containers among other non-food item needs. Livelihoods have greatly been threatened especially with loss of the current rice crop. Wage labour opportunities are no longer available to those who rely on agriculture labour for income.
Oxfam’s emergency intervention targets are currently based on 5,000 families or about 20,000 people who need immediate assistance in 4 provinces. This figure may grow bigger as more information is received and more areas accessed. Oxfam’s staff reported that flood victims in Kampong Thom, Stueng Treng, Kratie, and Preah Vihear remain among the most vulnerable.
“We can’t underestimate the situation” said Francis Perez, Country Lead of Oxfam International in Cambodia. “We are still in an emergency situation. Public health concerns and people’s livelihoods are our priorities. We must keep strong coordination with other humanitarian agencies.”
It is now estimated that 60,000 people are affected with at least 17 deaths including one pregnant woman, 65 injured with 18 serious cases and 30,000 hectares of rice fields and plantation destroyed by flood waters. Oxfam’s field reports show that 1519 houses, 55 public buildings, 40 kilometers of rural roads, 160 irrigation systems, channels, dams, embankments, and 3 bridges were damaged, causing major disruption to people’s livelihoods.
Relief works are hampered by transportation problems as roads and bridges have been damaged. The traditionally dispersed settlements of Cambodian people also make some of the forested villages inaccessible for needs assessment and aid distribution, whilst public health concerns are mounting among unaccounted populations in remote and forested villages.
Oxfam’s emergency interventions also target the remote villages and high-ground areas. Oxfam distributed non-food item stocks to populations in Kompong Thom last week. Items are being dispatched to affected populations in Kratie and Stung Treng for immediate distribution. Its non-food items arrived in Kampong Thom yesterday and are to be distributed today. On top of that, Oxfam has made additional purchases today and will send supplies to Stung Treng and Kratie on Tuesday.
Oxfam’s health experts warn that people must be careful about drinking water, as flood waters are highly contaminated. Oxfam sent a public health expert from London who will arrive in Cambodia today, and a public health engineer is expected to arrive tomorrow.
Notes to editors
Oxfam has continued to work closely with other humanitarian agencies, including the Cambodian Red Cross, Plan International, Caritas, Action Aid and several local NGOs. It will continue to coordinate with these agencies to identify aid gap and avoid duplication. Oxfam key partner is the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM) in respective provinces. National level work is done in close collaboration with the NCDM who are in charge of overall coordination and oversight of the emergency work.
In addition to targeting the 5,000 families needing emergency aid, Oxfam targets an additional 5,000 families in its recovery and rehabilitation phase within the next 2-3 months.