Authorities collected 72 homeless people living along the streets of Phnom Penh last week in a two-day campaign to beautify the city, Daun Penh officials said Thursday.
“Those bums and beggars no longer live [in] anarchy along the streets, which affects our capital’s beauty,” said Sok Sambath, Daun Penh district governor. “Particularly, we do not want them to create problems for tourists visiting Phnom Penh.”
The homeless people were taken to Phnom Penh Municipal Social Affairs Department to receive training in skills such as mechanics or sewing, he said.
Some then voluntarily left to work in their home provinces, and those who refused to return home have been sent to a rehabilitation center in Choam Chao, on the outskirts of the city, Sok Sambath said. He added that district authorities will continue to round-up the homeless once or twice a week.
“We collect them to live in the center where we expect that they will become other people who have proper skills and stop begging on the streets,” Sok Sambath said. Chea Sorn, director of Phnom Penh Municipal Social Affairs Department could not be reached for comment on Thursday. In a similar campaign in Nov 2003, authorities rounded up at least 100 panhandlers, street musicians and disabled people from the streets during the three-day Water Festival in an effort to beautify Phnom Penh, an official at the municipality’s Department of Social Affairs said.