On the Ground as Cambodia Goes into Lockdown

Cambodia April 2021

As some of the most vulnerable regions in the world struggle to contain fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus, Catholic Mission is ensuring those most in need are still being given the best practical and pastoral support.

Catholic Mission’s Regional Development Office in Cambodia is on the ground supporting and assisting with urgent supplies of food and resources, as the country struggles with a spike in the number of Covid-19 infections and a nation-wide lockdown.

This week, the Cambodia’s Ministry of Health reported four new deaths from Covid-19 and another 431 infections. This adds to a recorded total of just over 4,800 Covid-19 cases in Cambodia since the start of the global pandemic, most of which have been recorded in the last two months.

In the capital Phnom Penh, hard lockdown was ordered, leading to panic buying in local markets, resulting in a critical shortage of food and supplies. Food markets have now been shut and the Government has stopped all non-essential travel between the surrounding districts and suburbs of the city, with police and military guarding barricades.

Through the Catholic Alliance for Charity and Development (CACD), a network of Catholic Charities in Cambodia of which Catholic Mission is a member, there has been an urgent response to the needs of these people.

“Catholic Mission is proud to stand in solidarity with its partners and provide practical relief to a community in need,” says Catholic Mission National Director Fr Brian Lucas.

“Witness through charity is a core element of mission bringing the presence of Christ to a world longing for the fullness of life.”

Located roughly 170 kilometres south-west of Cambodia’s capital Phhom Penh are Catholic Mission supported projects, the Phnom Voah Farm and St Francis Private Technical High School. They have received an urgent delivery of 3,000 eggs, a thousand kilograms of rice, and supplies of vegetables, sugar cane, and pork. In addition to the food and supplies provided directly, additional funds to purchase food for 200 families over the next two weeks of the lockdown has been allocated by Catholic Mission’s Regional Development Office.

The Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler MEP, has acknowledged the work of the CACD and Catholic communities of Phnom Penh, who support and assist the disadvantaged and vulnerable across the country.

“Food support is a priority, but support of people’s spiritual life and the feelings of their hearts is also a high priority in this time of lockdown,” he says.

The Vicariate of Phnom Penh has launched an online live Catholic channel, sharing prayers and daily mass, as well as important health information.