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Rural Poor Worse Off Than Ever, Rights Official Argue

Many of Cambodia's rural poor are in worse shape than they have been in the past, a human rights official said Monday.

Emerging political conflict, food and land shortages and a low standard of living continue to plague the rural population—about 80 percent of Cambodians, said Ou Vireak, director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Even 10 kilometers out of Siem Reap, the gem of the country's tourism sector, the most people live in abject poverty, he said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

The Center runs a public forum that has come under recent governmental interference.

The central government has done little so far to tackle the issues facing the rural poor, despite continuous documentation by the Center, Ou Vireak said.

Ruling party officials ignore such complaints because it could cost them their position and "grip on power," he said.