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Beggars, prostitutes rounded up ahead of ASEAN summit

Beggars, prostitutes rounded up ahead of ASEAN summit

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A man walks by a group of homeless people near the riverside in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The Phnom Penh Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has cleared the city’s streets of 477 beggars and 440 street-based sex workers in a bid to “make the city beautiful” for this year’s ASEAN summit, officials said yesterday.

Yo Sopheak, chief of social health at the department, said that throughout 2011, the department had collected the beggars, who were living on the streets in Phnom Penh, and taken them to the rehabilitation department, where they receive training in order to work and support themselves.

“Daun Penh district in Phnom Penh had the biggest beggar collection, and in a bid to keep public order and make the city beautiful for ASEAN, we have taken them for training,” he said.

“They train in various professions such as hair dressing and tailoring, but sometime they just return to the same situation.”

The problem, Yo Sopheak said, is that the beggars disturb residents and tourists and make the city “messy”. It is better that “they find any job or business to support themselves”, he said.

Moth Yong Sony, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said it was important to make sure Daun Penh, where attractions such as the riverside, the nightmarket and many hotels are located, is beautiful for ASEAN.

“This district will continue to clean away [beggars and street-based sex-workers] and send them to the department of social affairs,” she said.

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