The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has ordered an organisation which supports orphans and the elderly people in Kampong Cham province to halt its operations, after several irregularities were discovered.

The NGO, whose name was not disclosed, has been given two months to ensure it complies with ministry regulations.

“[We] have ordered the organisation to stop providing accommodation for orphans, but will allow the elderly residents to remain in care at their facilities, provided the NGO re-establishes its registration and the appropriate legal documents,” said its September 11 notice.

Earlier that day, officials from the ministry’s General Department of Social Services and relevant authorities inspected the premises of the organisation, located in Thmor Keo village of Batheay district’s Trop commune.

They discovered that the NGO had registered with the Ministry of Interior in August 2006. However, after the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LANGO) came into force in 2015, it did not apply for re-registration, as required by law. Officials said the NGO has not been recognised as a child care centre by the social affairs ministry.

According to the notice, the premises failed to organise rooms by age or gender, and were insufficient for the number of occupants, while the number of people sharing rooms was unsanitary.

“Despite this, our officers recognised the willingness of Lon Sam An, president of the organisation, to help the needy, and will allow her NGO to continue providing care for their elderly residents,” it said.

The provincial social affairs department announced it will organise foster families for the children who were living at the premises, and will assist the NGO to comply with the legal requirements it needs to continue its operations.

“The General Department of Social Services has given the organisation two months to get its affairs in order. The authorities have been instructed to mediate with the people who demanded its closure, and determine an appropriate solution,” said the notice.

The organisation hosted 43 children, 16 elderly women and three elderly men. It employed six cooks, one cleaner and two security guards.

Sam An could not be reached for comment on September 12.

Rights group ADHOC spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said on September 12 that the ministry’s actions appeared correct, noting that the regulation of such facilities is essential to avoid similar occurrences.

“If an organisation fails to provide adequate care for orphans, the elderly or any other vulnerable persons, it affects public trust in all such institutions and may affect the provision of aid from the international community,” he said.