Government To Inspect Orphanages
BY VAN ROEUN
The Social Affairs Ministry has begun carrying out inspections of child residential institutions nationwide, in a bid to ensure they are complying with the country's 1aws and human rights obligations.
The Social Affairs Ministry has begun carrying out inspections of child residential institutions nationwide, in a bid to ensure they are complying with the country's 1aws and human rights obligations. Unicef’s Cambodian representative, Richard Bridle, said last week that the number of children housed in institutions had more than double since 2005, while the number of institutions had risen from 153 to 269 in the same period.
Of the nearly 12,000 Children living in institutions, only 28 percent were parentless, raising concerns from a rights group that some operators use children solely to raise money.
Yesterday, Social Affairs Ministry spokesman lim El Djurado confirmed the figures, which will be released in an upcoming report produced by the ministry and Unicef. Out of concern for the safety of the children involved, Mr El Djurado said ministry officials recently started conducting inspections at each of the 269 orphanages across the country-including 21 institutions run by the government.
“We are undertaking inspections into the orphanages to find if they comply with the laws,” he said, adding that he did not know how long it would take to complete the checks. 'We are conducting inspections because we don't know how the children are treated. I believe [we will find that] some of the orphanages do not meet the required standards. If they don't, they will face closure.” Explaining the number of non-orphans living in institutions, Mr El Djurado said some had been placed in emergency care because of domestic violence or because of their families' Sheer poverty. But Tara Winkler, founder of the Battarnbang province-based Cambodian Children's Trust, which provides housing for 46 orphans, said poverty was not an ideal reason for sending children to orphanages.
Ms Wmkler said she started CCT in 2007 after rescuing 14 children from another orphanage in Battambang, where they had been abused. “We are not taking kids anymore. We are focusing on working with poor families to help them keep their family together,” she said.
Ms Winkler said she was aware of several institutions where children were treated as commodities and where corruption was rampant.
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