Dereje Wordofa, president of SOS Children’s Villages, requested that the government consider including family-style child care in its Policy on Alternative Care for Children and increase measures to protect children.

The request came on March 17 at the inauguration of the SOS Children’s Village in Kampong Leav commune of Prey Veng province’s Prey Veng town on March 17 – in a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Prey Veng village was built on a site of more than 10,000sqm, which was donated by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng. Construction began in February 2018 and was completed in February, at a cost of $1,531,248.

“I would like to ask the government to consider family-style child care, in which children receive regular care by caregivers at a centre or in family units,” Wordofa said.

He also requested an increase in measures to address poverty and violence, saying these were important factors in the mental health of children.

“I am committed to continuing to work in partnership with the government to improve the network of child care and ensure that no more children are abandoned and grow up alone,” he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the event there is a lot of work to do, and that no country’s children had suffered like those in Cambodia.

“Our nation had an incredible number of child victims of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime. His regime killed many beloved parents, and we raised their orphans as if they were our own. What was our priority in 1979? We did not build new buildings for governors and provincial administrations but only places to raise the children of Cambodia,” he said.

The premier said it was a point of pride in Cambodia to never let a child die due to a lack of care. The children of the Kingdom, he added, also receive first-rate educations now, compared to the days of orphanages. Since 2019, more than a quarter of a million mothers and children have received the health services which are available to all mothers – from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday. This is a permanent programme which the government has pledged to continue indefinitely, he noted.

“We do not only take care of abandoned children, but for years we have taken care of impoverished women as well. From the moment of pregnancy, we are there to offer our assistance,” he said.

Hun Sen added that these programmes were not the only things the government was doing for the children of the nation.

Despite a reduction in the number of orphans in the country, there were still many children needing help. Some orphanages had transitioned and now helped young women who were the victims of abuse, he said.

According to Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth, SOS Children’s Villages is a humanitarian organisation serving the child welfare sector. Established in 1949 with its headquarters in Austria, the organisation has been operating in 136 countries around the world, including Cambodia.