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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

WFP resumes programs providing food to people with TB, HIV in Cambodia


The World Food Program has resumed its programs providing people living with HIV and tuberculosis in Cambodia with access to food after receiving aid from Spain and the U.S., the agency said on Thursday, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/8).

Thomas Keusters, country director for WFP's Cambodia office, said recently that WFP had been "forced to suspend" the programs because of funding shortages.

The programs distribute food rations to 18,000 people with TB and 70,000 people with HIV.
They also ensure that HIV-positive people and people with TB needing medicine are connected with food distribution points.

"The sick need food first before taking medicines," Haidy Ear-Dupuy -- advocacy manager at the Phnom Penh, Cambodia, office of World Vision -- said, adding, "You cannot take medication on an empty stomach.

You must maintain a balance" (Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service, 2/6). WFP in a statement on Thursday said that Spain has provided about $650,000 and that the U.S. has provided 6,100 tons of legumes, as well as 2,370 tons of vegetable oil, for a period of three years.

WFP three weeks ago announced that it needed at least $10 million to run its programs in Cambodia through July (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/8).

Keusters said WFP welcomed the donations but added that more "urgent donations" are needed (Agence France-Presse, 2/8). HIV prevalence in Cambodia is 1.6%, the highest in Southeast Asia, according to Inter Press Service (Inter Press Service, 2/6). Read more!

Cambodia hopes Castor Oil will boost their Economic

Phnom Penh - Cambodian officials Tuesday said they were aiming for a sweet financial future fuelled by castor oil, after negotiating with a Singaporean company to establish significant castor seed plantations in central Cambodia.

Chay Sareth, governor of central Pursat Province, said his cabinet had reached agreement with Van der Horst Jatropha Oil Plantation Pty Ltd, which would provide local people with seeds and technical training before buying back the resulting crop 'at a fair price.'

How much land would be put under castor oil production was dependent on how well the plant performed in Cambodian conditions, but initial estimates indicated at least 1,000 hectares would be dedicated to the endeavour, he said.

'We are looking at this as a way to boost employment,' Sareth said. 'But we have not yet signed a final contract.'

Some analysts have predicted a continued rise in world demand for the oil as a bio-diesel fuel source.

India currently supplies more than 85 per cent of world demand, but markets are expecting a shortfall after Indian farmers began to shift to cotton production instead.

There may also be an exciting medical future ahead for 'jatropha curcas.' Various parts of the plant are currently being medically tested for a range of uses including as a treatment for diseases ranging from malaria to fevers and even tumors.

Experts say mature plants can be expected to produce nearly 2,000 litres of oil per hectare per year. Read more!

Cambodia: A US navy warship left Cambodia on Tuesday

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A U.S. navy warship left Cambodia on Tuesday after the first port call by an American military vessel in this Southeast Asian nation in more than three decades.

The USS Gary, a guided missile frigate with 200 officers and crew, received a send-off from Cambodian naval officers as it left Sihanoukville port, 185 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of the capital Phnom Penh, said Khun Borin, a Cambodian deputy naval commander.

During the vessel's four-day stay, U.S. sailors shared techniques for rescue operations with their Cambodian counterparts and the two sides had a chance to play soccer together. The Americans also conducted humanitarian activities, including repairing a local medical clinic and providing checkups for Cambodian villagers.

"The ship's visit has paved the way for the two countries' sailors to get to know each other more closely," Khun Borin said.

Cambodian and U.S. officials have hailed the visit as a sign of the improved relationship between the two countries.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military heavily bombed suspected communist guerrilla strongholds in Cambodia up until 1974.

Eighteen U.S. soldiers were killed fighting Khmer Rouge forces on Koh Tang, a Cambodian island in the Gulf of Thailand, in May 1975.

The United States halted military assistance to Cambodia following a 1997 coup, in which Hun Sen grabbed full power after ousting his co-premier, Prince Norodom Ranariddh. Hun Sen remains prime minister. Read more!