T he Ministry of Social Affairs is too cash-strapped to carry out any long-term
plans to stem the ever-growing numbers of homeless children and NGOs say
authorities have resorted to periodic round-ups to clean up the
The Ministry of Social Affairs does have plans to educate street
children and send them back to their provinces, but they need $260,000 to
"We don't have it," says ministry spokesman Touch Samon,
representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The Ministry estimates there
are only 600 street children in Phnom Penh, compared to NGO estimates of five to
UNICEF's Margaret De Monchy says the government has plans
"to restore Phnom Penh to its former glory". Child welfare groups fear that
desperately-needed community development programs will be neglected for city
The government has tried to combat the problem
of street children with a policy of "clean-ups".
WVI's Tony Culnane says
that the periodic round-ups occur prior to major festivals.
are sent to government centers where "as recently as 1991, children were held in
leg irons," said UNICEF's Margaret de Monchy.
"There are no government
street children programs," said WVI's Culnane, "All they have are
Samon said to reach their financial goal they need support
from NGOs. UNICEF and the Child Welfare Group are using this opportunity to
teach Ministry employees basics in social work and street children psychology.