Forum on Drug Abuse Predicts Bleak Future

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.


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