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Thursday, September 29, 2011

TPRF Aid to help build new wells, private food in Cambodia

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) is contributing US$21,200 to assist efforts that will bring clean water and immediate food relief to more than 550 people in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia, where malnutrition has long been a common contributing cause of death among children.

The funds will support a long-term effort by Cambodia's Sao Sary Foundation (SSF) to assist families in one of the nation's poorest districts, which sits west of Phnom Penh. In addition to building wells and distributing rice, the program calls for the provision of farm tools, seeds and training in agriculture and managing family finances.

"TPRF is pleased to be working with SSF," says TPRF President Linda Pascotto, "because they are approaching the problems of severe poverty in Cambodia on multiple levels, with the objective of producing self-sustaining communities. SSF has already demonstrated measurable success from their efforts."
In addition to constructing three wells and distributing 50-pound bags of rice to nearly 90 households, SSF will use TPRF funds to issue water filters, hand pumps, water containers and food for livestock. The program also includes distribution of farming-tool kits, seeds for home gardens, income-management guidance and training on intercropping to increase yields.

Vichetr Uon, SSF's executive director and founder, says that Sao Sary Foundation works in one of the three poorest provinces of Cambodia, a country in which 42% of the population lives in extreme poverty. In Kampong Speu, 57% of households live under a poverty line, identified by the nation's Ministry of Planning as living on less than US$1.25 per day. Vichetr Uon explains that most inhabitants of this area are forced to seek seasonal work in neighboring provinces, where workers are often exploited and sometimes not even paid for their work.

"Parents often force young daughters to work using forged documents saying they are of minimum working age for local factories," Uon says, "in order to provide financial support to their families."

Low annual rainfall and lack of sanitation are related problems in a nation still recovering from decades of civil war, economic stagnation and genocide.

Specific programs for the estimated 560 direct beneficiaries of TPRF's aid, also include teaching community development skills, household planning, budgeting, literacy, agricultural extension and group formation.
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UN expert says Cambodia rights progress a 'mixed bag'

GENEVA — Despite significant human rights progress in Cambodia, freedom of expression has worsened, a UN expert told AFP, describing the situation as "a mixed bag".

"In some areas there has been some improvement, whereas in some areas things have regressed a bit," the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia Surya Subedi said.

"So it's a mixed bag," he said.

While praising the government's decision to reconsider a controversial draft law on civil society bodies, he said "freedom of expression and harassment of civil society representatives, lawyers and people belonging to the opposition has worsened."
The problem, he said, was a "harsher, less liberal interpretation and application of the law" by judges and prosecutors.

"The law, as it stands today, makes defamation, disinformation and falsification of information criminal offences," Subedi said, explaining that these offences should be decriminalized.

He gave the example of a UN staff member who was jailed for six months, "for merely printing information from the internet and sharing it with her colleagues".

The laws are also impacting policymaking, Subedi said.

"When an MP criticizes a government policy ... that MP has to be very careful with the words that they use, whether that will amount to a criticism of the prime minister, or ministers, because that could be construed as defamation," the rapporteur explained.

Subedi however praised the government's decision to reconsider a controversial law which would require any civil society organisation, including NGOs, to register with the government and notify authorities of its activities.

"This law has been sent back to the minister of the interior. And they are reconsidering it, which is a good indication.

"They could have pushed it through parliament, which they didn't," Subedi noted.
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Road accidents kill 25 people in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- Road accidents had killed 25 Cambodian people and injured another 166 during the celebration of the country's second largest religious festival, Pchhum Ben on Sept. 26-28, according to a report from the Ministry of Public Work and Transport on Thursday.

The report showed that a total of 75 road accidents happened nationwide during this year's celebration, down 24 percent compared to 99 cases in last year's celebration.

Preap Chan Vibol, director of the transport department of the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, said Thursday the number of the dead was still the same as that of last year, but the injured people have dropped 30 percent to 166 people from 239 injured in last year's celebration.

The Pchhum Ben festival is the second largest religious festival in Cambodia after the Khmer New Year.

Road accidents caused by three main factors: over-speed driving, reckless, alcohol driving, and overtaking, he said.

The death toll of road accidents has become the No. 1 killer in Cambodia among those of HIV/AIDS and mine casualties.

In 2010, 1,816 people were killed by road accidents, and 70 percent of the deaths were motorcycle drivers, according to the reports by the ministry. The country lost 279 million U.S. dollars from road accidents last year.
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