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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tonle Sap cleared of child beggars

Tonle Sap cleared of child beggars

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Officials vow to eliminate child-begging problem from Chong Khneas area

Elena Lesley

Children like this stand accused of jumping into tourist boats to beg for money.

THE presence of mostly-Vietnamese child beggars at the Chong Khneas area on the Tonle Sap has been nearly eliminated, and there should be none left on the lake by year's end, according to Siem Reap authorities.

Provincial Governor Sou Phirin told the Post, "Our plan is to completely stop children begging, and we will take them to educational training centres or orphanages."

Parents who put their children to work as beggars will be asked to make a contract with the authorities to not allow their children to beg, he added.

Siem Reap district police chief Phoeng Chendarith said that police have been deployed to patrol the district daily.

Phoeng Chendarith said, "Our activity has affected the begging business, and the climate now is good for the tourists who want to see Tonle Sap without being bothered by these children. Only few child beggars remain."

Child beggars, mostly Vietnamese, had proliferated in the Chong Khneas area, and the issue blew up earlier this year following complaints from tourism operators.

There were even reports that some beggars were menacing tourists who would not pay.

Authorities declared that appropriate action would be taken following a meeting held in Siem Reap in May, headed by Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

Roeun Thoeun, chairman of the Boat Association Council in Chong Khneas, applauded the actions of provincial authorities.

"Earlier this year I used to worry about the safety of my guests when travelling on the lake.  Many child beggars surrounded tourist boats asking for money.

"Some children even jumped into the tourist boats," Roeun Thoeun said. "But the authorities have done well. There are only a few child beggars left on the lake."

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