The problem of drug use in Cambodia is snowballing, according to government, law enforcement and NGO representatives, gathered Thursday at a forum to discuss solutions and treatment options.
And though some NGOs provide services to drug-addicted street children, very little help is available in general, they said.
At Thursday’s forum, sponsored by the Center for Social Development, more than 100 participants pushed for the government to provide better law enforcement, drug education and rehabilitation services.
Roeun Thearith, 14, an ex-addict from Kandal province, appealed to parents to counsel their children on the ills of drug abuse.
Sun Thouk, 54, urged police to crack down on drug abuse, because addicts threaten her for money at the market where she works as a vendor. She said that the market security guards do not dare to interfere with the addicts.
One retired government employee, 62, who didn’t give his name, said that Prime Minister Hun Sen should apply to drug abuse the strong-arm tactics he has employed with other problems: Purging corrupt officials and publicizing the identities of drug dealers to better share information with neighboring countries.
Dr Soun Sophal, a researcher with the World Health Organiza-tion cited a recent WHO report, indicating the widespread problem of drug use in Cambodia: The estimated number of pills coming into Cambodia every year has risen from 100,000 to 1 million in the last few years, and 72 percent of workers surveyed near the Thai border at Poipet said they have used amphetamines.
“There appears to have been a spillover, from Thailand in particular,” said Graham Shaw, of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, reached by phone Thursday.
Kompong Chhnang provincial police chief Touch Naroth stressed the importance of stopping drugs before they enter the country, and said that measures should be taken to educate people about the problem.