Three children in Svay Rieng province’s Korki commune are thought to have suffered birth defects or ill health resulting from exposure to chemical bombs.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng and his officials went to check the health of villagers living around bomb sites in the area yesterday, following the inauguration of a hospital in the province.
Mr Bunheng said officials carried out health checks of children in the commune and found three had been born with abnormalities or fallen ill.
“We will hand over the issue an investigative group,” he said. “But our first conclusion is that they could have been affected by chemical bombs.”
“There could be more children like this, so we will continue to carry out checks,” Mr Bunheng said, adding that the health of the mothers seemed to be fine.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Health Ministry to examine villagers living within the vicinity of an estimated 15 chemical bomb sites in Svay Rieng province.
“We need to investigate how this has affected the health of residents and their children,” he said.
Fifteen areas contaminated by chemical weapons were identified in Korki and Ampil communes, not including one that has already been cleared in Korki pagoda and school.
Deputy district governor Sour Mol said five villagers have reported skin complaints in the commune, including one child.
Three-year-old Meas Somrany was also born with an abnormally large head, while 14-year-old Som Sokhom has dwarfism, he added.
“The people with skin complaints told us they had touched chemical substances from bombs,” Mr Mol said.
Mr Bunheng said the Prime Minister wants to build a free health centre near the bomb site in Korki village. “The decision to build the health centre is in response to requests from villagers, to make it easy for them to get health checks,” he said.
The Health Ministry issued a statement advising villagers to stay away from bomb sites, educate children not to touch bombs, and seek medical assistance immediately if they feel unwell.