Orang Asli in dire need of food supplies

IPOH: Some 5,000 Orang Asli of Kampung Senangit in Pos Kemar, Grik, are without food supplies since the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).

Their predicament worsened when their plants, including tapioca, were destroyed by a herd of wild elephants that entered the village a few days before the MCO started.

Tok Batin Hamdan Adik said the tapioca would have been their food while waiting for any assistance to arrive.

“Everything got destroyed and some of us have not eaten for days. We have contacted Jakoa (Orang Asli Development Department) but have yet to receive any help,” he said.

Hamdan said there were at least 290 families in the settlement and since the MCO started, only one supplier came to the village.

“Even that, the supplies were not enough. While some of us have our own transport and food sources, many others are left with nothing.

“Representatives from Perhilitan (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) visited us but they did not bring any supply, just to check on the damage done by the wild elephants,” he said.

Hamdan said some of the villagers were having fever and flu.

“We have a village clinic here and the medical supply is enough for now.

“We are only short of food supplies,” he said, adding that in order to reach the village, four-wheel-drive trucks or a boat were needed.

“We are in dire need of help and with the extension of the MCO, it will be harder,” he added.

Orang Asli Development Cooperative founder Datuk Ramesh Arumugam Chettiar said while the MCO was necessary, it was causing a major hiccup in the food chain within the majority of the Orang Asli community.

“Villages which are close to the jungle and far remote may still survive as there could be some tapioca and other jungle vegetables and herbs.

“However, for the 60% of the villages, which are closer to smaller towns and villages, they are in dire need of food aid since grocery shops are closed,” he said, adding that Jakoa should be alloted emergency funds to give out aid.

Perak and Kedah Jakoa director Harulnizam Abd Rahman said they were looking for suppliers, who were willing to go to Orang Asli settlements that needed help.

“Our priority is those in the B40 group. We have received some allocations from the Perak government to supply essentials such as rice, cooking oil and dry groceries.

“However, we are not sure when the aid can reach them as we are still waiting for suppliers,” he said.

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