Orang asli in dire need of supplies

Just in time: Orang asli children finally getting some food after supplies were delivered by helicopter to an area near their inundated village in Gua Musang. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Living in the interior and just as badly affected by the devastating floods are thousands of orang asli whose villages are cut off.

The Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) said worse off are the approximately 5,000 orang asli living in low-lying areas or beside rivers which have burst their banks.

The centre’s coordinator, Colin Nicholas, said these include communities in Kelantan (especially Gua Musang), Perak and Pahang.

He said there were many groups and organisations ready to help but the problem was getting supplies to these villagers.

He said there was little or no access to these villages and that government aid has also yet to reach them.

“There needs to be helicopters, and organisation and planning to reach these villages.”

Besides food, said Nicholas, these communities needed medicine and materials to build shelters.

He said that although the orang asli are resilient and have lived with floods, the devastation this year was worse in terms of scale.

Nicholas said the problem was made worse by ecological degradation as the earth could not absorb the rain.

“We cannot just blame God,” he said.

Lawyer Siti Kasim, who is a member of the Bar Council’s Committee for Orang Asli Rights, was concerned for the approximately 2,000 Temiar who live in villages along rivers in Gua Musang.

While contact with these villages was irregular, Siti said she had received word that many of the Temiar lost everything in the floods.

“I fear that most will only have the clothes on their back and little else,” she said.

To date, she only heard about one load of supplies that was trucked in by a Good Samaritan several days ago.

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