The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology issued a warning yesterday about a spell of cold weather headed toward eight provinces, potentially bottoming out at 18 degrees Celsius from today until Sunday. Rights groups are worried about the wellbeing of poor and homeless people without access to warm clothing or insulated shelter.
Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, appealed to relevant institutions, local authorities and the public to be careful due to the approaching cold snap.
“The weather will bring cold in some provinces such as Oddor Meanchey, Battambang, Pailin, Beanteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Ratanakkiri and Mondoulkiri province. The temperature may fall to as low as 17 to 20 degrees Celsius,” Mr. Kean Hor said in a statement.
Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for right group Adhoc in Ratanakkiri, said he was concerned about the safety of people in rural areas and the homeless both in his province and others because people have died during such cold spells in the past.
“There were two people who died from the cold weather in Ratanakkiri province’s Banlung town in early 2012 and 2015. They were homeless people,” he said.
Mr. Thy said that at that time, the temperature had fallen to 13 degrees Celsius and the two people who died had no place to stay indoors. or remain warm.
“Authorities will have to pay attention to their people when the weather changes to cold because it will affect homeless people who stay on the sidewalk or under a piece of someone’s roof, house or in a pagoda,” said Mr. Thy.
Mr. Thy said local government officials should provide homeless people with some place warm to stay for the next few days.
Chan Yutha, spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Deputy Director of the Ratanakkiri provincial department of Water Resources and Meteorology Chan Bunthoeun said that the department has urged citizens to take care of themselves.
“We did not distribute sweaters or blankets to the villagers, but we just told them to be careful and take care in the cold weather,” Mr. Bunthoeun said.
Mr. Bunthoeun said that 17 or 18 degrees Celsius is not too cold for people living in the provinces because at this time of year the temperature can fall to as low as 18 and 19 degrees Celsius.
The coldest temperature recorded in Ratanakkiri is 6 degrees Celsius.