Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Orphanages go unregistered, uninspected

Orphanages go unregistered, uninspected

Boys watch television at a Phnom Penh orphanage.
Boys watch television at a Phnom Penh orphanage. Sovan Philong

Orphanages go unregistered, uninspected

Just over half of the orphanages in five “priority provinces”, including Phnom Penh, are registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) as legally required, according to a preliminary survey released yesterday.

The data suggest that the number of children in residential care institutions is 56 per cent higher than previously estimated.

And until now, only institutions recognised by the ministry have been evaluated for minimum standards of care. A sub-decree mandating that all institutions register with the government was signed in October.

The report, conducted with support from UNICEF, found that while 267 facilities met the definition of a residential care institution, only 139 were inspected in 2014. In the capital alone, there are 69 facilities that have never been inspected, according to Bruce Grant, the chief of child protection at UNICEF Cambodia.

Left unregulated, institutions raise “a number of serious concerns”, including overcrowding, exploitation and deliberately poor conditions designed to attract donor funding, said James Sutherland, spokesman for Friends International, which provided support for the survey.

Preliminary mapping took place in the provinces thought to have the largest number of residential care facilities: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk.

MoSVY has committed to remove 30 per cent of children from residential care by 2018, part of a supported effort to transition institutions into resources for families. Three-quarters of children in orphanages in Cambodia have at least one living parent, according to UNICEF data.

The ministry will not accept new applications for residential care institutions until all current facilities have been evaluated. Inspections will begin after the Khmer New Year holiday, according to Ros Sokha, the newly appointed head of the ministry’s child welfare department.

“If possible, we will inspect all of them,” he said.

The ministry will also forbid the admission of children to NGO-run facilities without its authorisation; severely limit the placement of children under the age of 3; and establish a rapid-response team for cases of abuse or non-compliance, according to the report.

MoSVY requested that all institutions submit notification forms with basic background information by February 28. Yesterday, Sokha said he was uncertain how many had been received.

Cambodia’s Policy on Alternative Care for Children states that institutional care should be not only a last resort, but also a “temporary solution”. Sixty-five per cent of the surveyed residential care institutions provide long-term care, the report said. Data on length of stay for 26 per cent of the institutions was unavailable.

The survey identified 401 facilities (including residential care, faith-based care, group homes and others) responsible for 18,451 children and an additional 7,708 young adults over the age of 18, based on self-reported data collected by ministry staff.

Data for the other 20 provinces, along with recommendations for the alternative-care system, will be released in mid-2016, the report said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal