Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government to miss orphan goal



Government to miss orphan goal

Social Affairs Minister Vong Soth presides over a year-end ministry meeting yesterday in Siem Reap. Facebook
Social Affairs Minister Vong Soth presides over a year-end ministry meeting yesterday in Siem Reap. Facebook

Government to miss orphan goal

Cambodia will likely miss its goal of reuniting 30 percent of children living in orphanages with their parents by the end of 2018, a Ministry of Social Affairs official acknowledged yesterday.

Ministry spokesman Touch Channy said the government has managed to reintegrate 700 children with their parents so far, out of a target of 3,500 under the Unicef-supported action plan.

The figures were announced at a year-end meeting of the Ministry of Social Affairs held in Siem Reap and presided over by Minister Vong Soth yesterday.

Channy said the ministry may “readjust” the target, but that the important thing is that officials are making sure it is in each child’s best interest to return to their families.

“This plan is not to just reach the target,” Channy said. “If we just wanted to reach the target, it is not difficult. We could just count the number of children asking to leave the centres. But we don’t do it that way. We care about the quality and quantity.”

The government issued sweeping reforms of orphanages in 2015 after studies showed an estimated 80 percent of children in institutions have living parents. Advocacy groups have tried to reduce the number of institutionalised care centres in Cambodia due to the risks to children, including physical and emotional abuse and exploitation, sometimes in the form of “orphanage tourism”.

Read more: After the number of Cambodian orphanages skyrocketed, government reforms are looking to place more children with their relatives

Regarding the goal of reuniting 3,500 so-called orphans with their families, Unicef Cambodia spokesman Iman Morooka said it is “critical” for Cambodia to train more social workers to speed up the process and fill a national shortage.

“There’s still one more year when we hope that progress will be accelerated,” she said in an email.

“This said, reintegration is a slow and long-term process and must be conducted very carefully. While the numbers matter, these are lives of real children.”

According to Morooka, the growth of licensed orphanages has slowed since 2015, when the government issued a sub-decree aimed at tightening oversight of the facilities. Among other things, the sub-decree required all orphanages to get a permit, submit to inspections and tighten admissions criteria.

Morooka added that Unicef is in the process of rolling out a digitised inspection system to help Ministry of Social Affairs officials collect real-time data on residential care institutions.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there