Cambodia’s government must allow aid to be delivered to thousands of people in lockdown to avert a humanitarian crisis, Amnesty International said on Friday.
Cambodia has placed several cities under a colour-coded lockdown system as it battles a worsening COVID-19 outbreak responsible for more than 12,000 cases in 10 weeks.
Roughly 300,000 people were within `red zones’ and banned from leaving their homes except for medical emergencies.
The government is struggling to deliver food supplies to those in need, it has blocked aid groups from entering the areas.
The Police were also using aggressive, sometimes violent tactics to enforce restrictions.
Amnesty Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Yamini Mishra said authorities need to immediately allow Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies to help deliver aid to red zones.
She said the government’s `outrageous mishandling’ of the lockdown was causing human rights violations and untold suffering.
“Right now, residents of ‘red zones’ and others in Cambodia are going hungry because of fundamentally unreasonable policies,’’ Mishra said.
As food runs low, desperation within the zones, some of which had been blocked off with makeshift barriers, has started to boil over into unrest.
About 100 people staged a protest on Thursday, local outlet Voice of Democracy reported.
Officials blamed `provocateurs’ “suggesting the discontent had a political element,’’ reported the Khmer Times.
Amnesty’s Mishra said authorities needed to focus on delivering vital aid rather than retaliating against desperate residents for voicing their concerns.
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