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Monday, November 14, 2011

Second Cambodian-American Elected to Lowell City Council

“We need inter-racial communication within the community, especially cooperation with city authorities to establish after-school programs for students.”

Nuon Vesna became the second Cambodian-American to be elected to the city’s governing body on Nov. 8.

A Cambodian-American who ran on a platform of public safety, education and economic development has been elected to the city council of Lowell, Mass.

“We need inter-racial communication within the community, especially cooperation with city authorities to establish after-school programs for students,” said Nuon Vesna, who became the second Cambodian-American to be elected to the city’s governing body on Nov. 8.

Students need a variety of activities to partake in, he said, “rather than playing around in the streets and forming gangs to cause trouble in our community.”

Cambodians in Lowell tend to cluster around their own areas, he said, but businesses need to reach out more widely. He plans to work with city authorities to review permits and licensing in the city.

Nuon Vesna, who is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said he hopes to work with like-minded elected council members to achieve his goals.

“They also want public safety, they want business people to expand their businesses to other places in the community,” he said. They also want the creation of a Cambodia Town neighborhood, he said. “Therefore we need to work cooperatively with them to make the project a reality.”

A committee has been working on the establishment of a Cambodia Town, which is looking at the one already established in Long Beach, Calif. However, he said, in some ways that model may not work for Lowell.

Nuon Vesna said he decided to stand for election to represent Cambodians, who are a quarter of the population in Lowell. He said he hopes to solve the community’s problems and be an active mediator between the community and the city’s leaders.

His election, he said, was a good sign that Cambodians in Lowell are actively going to the polls.
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Lawmaker Investigating 10 Deaths of Cambodians in Malaysia

“It is very good for helping protect the basic rights of our laborers in Malaysia.”

This picture taken on January 19, 2011 shows a young woman reading advertisements for "maids wanted" outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua is investigating the deaths of 10 Cambodian maids in Malaysia to prepare a complaint to the country’s parliamentary human rights committee.

The 10 women died from illnesses or suicide in a country that has earned wide condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers, said An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies.

Other Cambodian women have returned with stories of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their employers, and Cambodia has banned workers from travel there pending investigations into allegations of abuse there and in Cambodian recruitment agencies.

Mu Sochua said she was clarifying documents with the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia before submitting a complaint to the Malaysian National Assembly’s Human Rights Committee.

An Bunhak said the group was cooperating with Mu Sochua’s efforts.

“It is very good for helping protect the basic rights of our laborers in Malaysia,” he said. “We requested that the Malaysian authorities perform autopsies and that parents or family members were invited to directly see the autopsies in Malaysia.”

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labor program, said the organization is seeking more detailed information of the deaths of the workers.
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CAMBODIA: Millions to receive insecticide-treated mosquito nets

PHNOM PENH, 14 November 2011 (IRIN) - Millions of Cambodians are set to receive insecticide-treated mosquito nets as part of a government-led effort to mitigate the risk of malaria and dengue fever.

"This is Asia's largest-ever distribution of mosquito nets. It will cover over 4,000 villages in 20 provinces in Cambodia," Steven Bjorge, malaria team leader at The World Health Organization (WHO) Cambodia, told IRIN on 14 November. "The goal is to ensure that every person at risk of contracting malaria has a mosquito net by the end of the year."

The US$14.5 million project to distribute 2.7 million nets is funded by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The nets will be distributed by the National Malaria Control Centre with technical assistance from WHO.

Speaking at the launch on 7 November in the remote northeastern province of Kratie, Health Minister Mom Bun Heng told about 1,000 residents: "It is urgent that we help people living in forest areas as they are at great risk of contracting malaria, particularly after the recent flooding."

The project aims to distribute 785,000 insecticide-treated nets in six provinces this month, including three of those hit hardest by the worst flooding in more than a decade.

Heavy flooding According to the National Committee for Disaster Management, the floods killed about 250 people and affected about 10 percent of the country's population, or 1.5 million people.

Out of 18 provinces affected by floods, Kandal, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham remain the hardest-hit, with relief organizations still finding it difficult to reach many affected communities. More than 250,000 displaced people have reportedly returned to their places of origin, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated on 10 November.

"This distribution of insecticide-treated nets is also necessary in the aftermath of the floods. As the waters recede we expect malaria to rise within six to eight weeks as malaria-carrying mosquitoes start breeding in pools of stagnant water," Bjorge said. "So these bed nets will help the flood-affected people protect themselves against malaria."

In December, 1,915,000 insecticide-treated nets will be distributed in 13 provinces, the health ministry said.

The National Malaria Centre has also planned a workshop to set national treatment guidelines for malaria at the end of this month. "Cambodia has yet to adopt a single first-line Artemisinin combination treatment for malaria," WHO's spokesman, Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan, said.

In western Cambodia, the combination first-line treatment is dihydroartemisinin-piperaquin (DHA-P) and in the rest of Cambodia Artemisinin-Melfoquine (A+M) is used. "A+M is not used in western Cambodia because the malaria parasites there are resistant to Melfoquine," Krishnan said.

In the first nine months of 2011, there were 43,991 reported malaria infections and 64 deaths, compared with 38,321 infections and 82 deaths in the same period last year, the National Centre for Malaria reported.

According to WHO, in 2000, the number of treated malaria cases in Cambodia stood at 129,167 with 608 deaths. In 2010, that dropped to 56,217 and 135 deaths, down 78 percent.

At the Cambodian National Health Congress in March, Prime Minister Hun Sen set a target for eliminating deaths from malaria by 2015, and infections by 2025.

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