City Hall, Aid Groups Agree to Conduct Census of Street People

A week after it called off a failed sweep of the city’s vagrants, City Hall held a meeting with four NGOs and district authorities Friday in which they agreed to form a joint committee to conduct a census of street sellers and beggars, according to the municipal spokesman.

An initiative to clear Phnom Penh’s streets of beggars and homeless people was cancelled by City Hall on June 12 after the NGOs supposedly partnering in the effort refused to take in children and adults that had been rounded up by municipal authorities.

City Hall promised to delay its efforts until a plan was in place to deal with the city’s street people.

At Friday’s meeting, NGOs Mith Samlanh, Pour un Sourire d’ Enfant, Krousar Thmey and SBK agreed to join the joint committee, which will begin its work with a census.

“Today’s meeting with four partner NGOs [and] with the 12 district authorities has reached an agreement to create a joint committee to collect data and identities of street people and street sellers to build a good action plan to ensure those will never return to the street again,” said City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche.

In their roundup of vagrants last week, municipal authorities loaded at least 36 people into caged trucks and sent a number of them to the Prey Speu social affairs center before releasing them back onto the street three days later.

Ly Song, 38, who sells jasmine clusters on Russian Boulevard, said he had two sons who were scooped up by city authorities last week.

“I hope the action plan will authorize those who sell flowers to continue their business, since we cannot afford to buy a stall at the market to sell jasmine clusters,” he said.

Street seller Ron Sinuon, 56, said it is too late for her to start a new job.

“I am very old and it is not right to send me for vocational training at this age,” she said.

A second meeting between City Hall and NGOs will be held later this month, according to Mr. Dimanche.

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