Aid Workers Question Children’s Whereabouts

Casting doubt over the whereabouts of about 15 drug-addicted street children, aid workers and officials in Banteay Meanchey province said Tuesday they knew nothing of an NGO in the prov­ince where the Phnom Penh Mun­­icipality reportedly sent the group.

Though a senior municipal official said 10 to 15 children from the capital were sent to a Banteay Meanchey NGO that specializes in treating drug addicts, Rath Sreang, Banteay Meanchey military police commander, said no such NGO exists in the province.

Representatives from human rights NGOs Licadho, Adhoc and Mith Samlanh/Friends also said they had not heard of any such NGO there.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Ly Sou, however, repeated his statements Tuesday that the municipality had transported the group to Banteay Meanchey.

Ly Sou could not re­member the name of the NGO charged with treating the youths, but he disputed Banteay Meanchey Governor Thach Khorn’s statement made Monday that no drug-addicted youths were brought to his prov­ince.

“I have clear documents provided by the Municipal Social Affairs Department on the agreement to transport drug addicts to the province,” Ly Sou said.

Rath Sreang said municipal officials, including representatives of the Social Affairs Department, visited him last month, asking to send drug addicts from Phnom Penh, but he said he lacked space at the military police office.

Rath Sreang acknowledged over the weekend that he was running a makeshift treatment center for 30 to 40 addicts at a time at the office, though he knows it is “illegal.”

 

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