A Missing Homeless Boy Located Weeks After Stampede

NGO Mith Samlanh is searching for the family of a mentally ill young boy who was rescued from Diamond Bridge during the Koh Pich stampede on Nov 22, but only identified last week.

Seventeen days after the tragedy, the boy, estimated to be between 7 and 10 years old, was found in Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital by Mith Samlanh staff, said Man Phally, program coordinator for the organization that helps street children.

The child was taken to one of Mith Samlanh’s centers on Saturday after the hospital rang the organization last Thursday regarding the boy who suffers a range of mental illnesses and epilepsy, Mr Phally said.

“We went to visit him and realized that he was one of the children that stayed with us,” he said.

In September, Mith Samlanh picked the boy up in Phnom Penh following a report to their telephone hotline of his abandonment, Mr Phally said, adding that the child stayed at their center until he disappeared in early November.

The boy finds it difficult to communicate, so where he comes from and even his name remain a mystery, he added.

“We would like to make an announcement to find his family,” he said, noting that the Cambodian Red Cross were contacted to trace his relatives and notices had been run on TVK and Sambok Khmum radio.

Mam Daro, restoring family links officer for the Cambodian Red Cross, said that out of 309 requests to find missing persons–including 106 minors under 18 years old–in the aftermath of the stampede, only 48 cases remained unsolved.

“We are communicating with the police and municipality to get the remaining people,” Mr Daro said. “We assume some [missing people] might not be related to the stampede at all.” His report noted that in response to requests, 165 adults and 64 children were found alive, while 32 were found dead.

Nhim Vanda, first vice chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that only 40 of the 395 people injured during the tragedy remained in Phnom Penh’s hospitals.

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