PM Hun Sen Reiterates Cambodia’s Humanitarian Responsibility for Westerdam Cruise Ship

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Phnom Penh, February 18, 2020 –Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has re-affirmed Cambodia’s stance on humanitarian action and responsibility for all passengers and crewmembers on the Westerdam​ cruise ship.

Addressing to the graduation ceremony of nearly 2,000 students of the National Institute for Education here this morning, Samdech Techo Hun Sen said if Cambodia did not allow Westerdam to dock in Sihanouk-ville, it would become a global humanitarian crisis.

“If Cambodia didn’t authorise Westerdam to dock [at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port], how would the more than 2.000 people on the ship become? What would happen on Westerdam?” he asked.

According to the Premier, this afternoon he will receive a Westerdam delegation led by U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. W. Patrick Murphy who wants to pay a courtesy call on and thank him for the warm cooperation from the Cambodian authorities.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen continued that the Westerdam’s passengers who have disembarked the ship and have been staying in Phnom Penh will return to their homeland by two airplanes, one through Dubai and the other through Japan. For the remaining passengers on the ship in Sihanoukville will fly to a city in ASEAN.

Regarding the COVID-19 case detected in Malaysia on an American woman, 83, who is a Westerdam’s passenger, Samdech Techo Hun Sen called on the Ministry of Health to collaborate with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Malaysia authorities.

The Prime Minister affirmed that after the case had been confirmed, Cambodian health officers had worked with WHO and other relevant institutions to monitor and apply the safety measures to all Westerdam’s passengers, but no one had been detected with the deadly virus.

Yesterday, Phnom Penh municipal authorities provided warm hospitality to more than 100 Westerdam’s passengers who have been staying in a hotel in Phnom Penh by transporting them for sightseeing around the capital city.

According to a local media report, Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and the Ministry of Health yesterday conducted a re-examination of the specimens collected from the remaining 223 passengers on the ship to ensure that they had not been infected by the virus. The collected samples will be tested at the capital’s Pasteur Institute.

Concerning COVID-19, Samdech Techo Hun Sen shared his concern over its impact on many economic sectors, mainly tourism, transportation and some industrial activities.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister underlined that the spread of COVID-19 is affecting the global economy, including that of Cambodia. Some factories in the Kingdom may close their doors, he continued, explaining that it is not because of EBA, but because of no raw material from China.

By Khan Sophirom