The Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) received over $20 million in donations during the 156th anniversary celebrations of the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day on Wednesday.

With the theme I Love Cambodian Red Cross, the annual event was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, who is also the president of CRC.

At the end of the event, the CRC announced a total of $20,757,510 had been raised from various donors “to sustain humanitarian acts in the Kingdom”.

The figure is an increase of more than $2 million from that of last year when $18,028,668 was successfully collected from the donors.

King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, senior government officials, business people, celebrities and thousands of ordinary citizens were among those who contributed their money to support CRC’s causes, a post on Hun Sen’s Facebook page stated.

It further detailed that the King and Queen Mother had donated $40,000, while Heng Samrin – the president of the National Assembly – and Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng made 20 million riel ($5,000) and $80,000 contributions, respectively.

Some officials, the post continued, also pledged donations between $10,000 and $20,000.

However, the highest amount in donation was pledged by Oknha Hong Piv, CEO of Borey Piphup Thmey Group, who contributed $1,299,999.

Another tycoon, Try Pheap, pledged a $300,000 contribution.

Hun Sen lauded the contributions during the event, saying “without love, there won’t be any assistance to support the CRC”, and that the amount of donations “keeps increasing year after year”.

“I consider this year’s theme [I love the Cambodian Red Cross] as the permanent [theme] for our red cross. Without love, maybe we would not have had the chance to gather annually like this and our citizens would not have received any benefits,” he said.

The prime minister said the contributions from all donors had enabled CRC to continue assisting “approximately 140,000 Cambodian families in need of aid”.

He maintained that the humanitarian relief efforts did not just begin last year, noting that the CRC has continuously initiated the actions since after January 7, 1979, when the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled by Vietnamese troops.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said on Wednesday that the surge in donations would benefit the target groups, such as victims of natural disasters and the individuals vulnerable to different sorts of social issues.

However, he said he could not assess the CRC’s actions in the past and their effectiveness.

He argues that the increasing amount of contributions does not necessarily reflect that the CRC’s programmes have been successfully implemented.

He suggested that the assessment of the organisation’s humanitarian acts should be carried out separately.

“When the target groups receive facilitation in accordance with their needs due to their situations, that is when we know that CRC’s actions are effective,” San Chey noted.