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Veterans' pensions delayed by ministry

More than 30 disabled veteran soldiers from four districts in Siem Reap province continued protests on Tuesday in front of the provincial department of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, demanding pension payments they claim have been frozen since 2007.

Iet Sivlong, provincial investigator for rights group Licadho, said on Tuesday that the protest began on Monday but dispersed temporarily after the department’s director promised to distribute the last six months’ worth of overdue payments. The protest resumed after no money was disbursed.

Phea Sophat, director of the provincial Social Affairs Department, said that in 2009 the Interior Ministry had deemed about 2,000 disabled veterans in Siem Reap eligible to receive government pension payments.

“I owe about 2,000 disabled soldiers eight billion riel (US$1,942,219) since 2008. I wrote a letter to the Ministry of Economy and Finance through the Ministry of Social Affairs, but the money is yet to be delivered,” he said.

Lim El Djurado, spokesman for the Social Affairs Ministry, said: “The finances are late, requiring [the soldiers] to wait.”

He confirmed that the veterans had the requisite documents to receive their payments, and assured them that the Ministry would deliver the pensions soon. “No Ministry officials have exploited that money,” he added.

According to a report from the Social Affairs Ministry in March this year, 28,590 disabled soldiers nationwide were receiving government pensions, among a total of 94,169 veterans living in Cambodia.

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