Jakoa struggling to deliver aid to Orang Asli during MCO due to transport, manpower shortage

Members of the Batek tribe wear face masks at their settlement in Kuala Koh June 14, 2019. — Bernama pic
Members of the Batek tribe wear face masks at their settlement in Kuala Koh June 14, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) director-general Prof Dr Juli Edo said Orang Asli across the country are facing restricted access to aid during the movement order control (MCO).

He told online portal The Malaysian Insight that the lack of manpower and large number of households needing assistance is stretching Jakoa’s resources and ability to deliver food to the needy.

He added that Jakoa has no choice but to provide aid to those in need, in stages.

“We don’t have enough transportation so the delivery will be done in stages. Like in Cameron Highlands, there are 24,000 households. So, we can’t go to all places at once,” Dr Juli was quoted saying.

He said tribes in Perak, Pahang and Kelantan are struggling to buy food as they are predominantly daily wage earners and living from hand to mouth.

The location of their living quarters, especially those deep in the interiors of Gua Musang in Kelantan, Kuala Lipis in Pahang and Grik and Banding in Perak, adds another element of difficulty in reaching them due to the undulating terrain.

“We don’t have enough manpower because there aren’t many people (volunteers) in the various districts. In some districts, there are 20 to 30 villages, while we have three to four people to assist and they are exhausted,” added Dr Juli.

Covid-19 has seen 65 deaths in Malaysia, with 4,119 cases recorded so far. Malaysia is on an enforced MCO to break the spread of the virus.

Among those infected include two Orang Asli, a three-year-old boy from Cameron Highlands and a medical personnel from Perak.

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