The Council of Ministers announced in a statement Friday that it has established a national committee aimed at improving the way Cambodia deals with destitute people, adding that previous attempts to do so in Phnom Penh have been flawed. The statement does not mention how the National Committee for Resolving the Vagabond Issue will deal with homelessness.
After being taken off the streets of the capital between 1999 and 2005, “vagabonds received education and vocational training for three to six months before they were integrated back into their community, and the majority have a better living, but still a number
of them fled their homes to beg again,” the statement reads.
The Ministry of Social Affairs drafted the subdecree establishing the committee. A copy was not made available. According to the statement, there are over 6,000 destitute people living in Phnom Penh, and provincial authorities throughout Cambodia are expected get involved in the committee.
“Obviously, the vagabonds are not only in Phnom Penh, but it happens in many other provinces and municipalities, and a number of others cross the border to beg in neighboring countries,” the statement added.
Municipal Cabinet Chief Suon Rindy said the committee is a good idea, adding: “All the sectors can work together in facilitating the vagabond issue.”
Chea Vannath of the Center for Social Development said more must be done to address rural poverty. Phnom Penh, she said, “is like a gold mine where [villagers] think they can find a job or get food better than the area they live in.”