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Caritas and Cambodia join to manage natural disasters

The Catholic agency has played a vital role in the protection of the nation's environment and natural resources management

Caritas and Cambodia join to manage natural disasters

A Caritas Cambodia worker distributes food aid to poor people during nationwide lockdown for Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Caritas and the National Committee for Disaster Management have paired for disaster management in the country. (Photo: Caritas Cambodia)

Published: February 11, 2022 10:48 AM GMT

Updated: February 11, 2022 11:48 AM GMT

Caritas Cambodia, the Catholic Church's social service arm in Cambodia, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the state-run National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) to jointly manage disasters in the Southeast Asian nation.

The government committee's deputy chairman Hang Samoeun and Caritas Cambodia executive director Kim Rattana signed the deal on Feb. 10 in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, a press release said.

The understanding is "to strengthen cooperation in the field of disaster management, monitoring and evaluation in Caritas Cambodia’s target areas,” the press release said.

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Samoeun said his office is glad to pair up with Caritas Cambodia for four programs in 2022 to 2024 that focus on disaster management and community development.

Implementation of these programs would ensure disaster preparedness, risk reduction, response and improve efficiency in disaster management capacity building by both agencies, he added.

Caritas Cambodia executive director Kim Rattana said that cooperation between Caritas and NCDM seeks “to reduce the suffering of those affected” by natural disasters.

Over the past decades, Caritas Cambodia has been a leading aid group aiming for the integral development of people irrespective of race and creed in the country.

Caritas Cambodia started in 1970 as an Aid Commission to support refugees and victims of the Cambodian civil war.

It took the name Caritas Cambodia and in 1973, became a full member of Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of Catholic aid agencies.

The agency was forced to shut down following the takeover of Cambodia by the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge regime in 1975. The regime was responsible for the genocide of two million people until it was overthrown by the Vietnamese army in 1979.

Caritas Cambodia was reorganized and re-launched in 1990 with the intervention of Caritas Internationalis and Caritas France after the end of the Cambodian war.   

In Cambodia, Caritas has played a vital role in the protection of the environment and management of natural resources.

On Jan. 31, it provided 250 camping tents to the Ministry of Environment to be used for programs related to protection, conservation and management of natural resources and to raise awareness among environmental protection among people, particularly the younger generation.

Meanwhile, during nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Caritas helped local the local Church to provide food ration to 9,000 poor families in Phnom Penh and Takhmao Town. The beneficiaries included local constructions workers, garment factory workers, garbage collectors, and fishermen.

In October 2020, when severe flooding hit Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces, Caritas and NCDM paired up and provided emergency rescue materials including 20 rescue boats, 115 life jackets, 500 blue tents, 500 mosquito nets, and 500 blankets for rescue teams and vulnerable communities.

Christians are a tiny minority in Cambodia, accounting for less than one percent in the Buddhist-majority nation of about 17 million.

There are some 20,000 Catholics in the country, spread across three church jurisdictions – Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh, Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang and Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong-Cham

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