Governor Holds Meeting on Helping Homeless

Ahead of a visit to the Prey Speu social affairs center Friday, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong on Wednesday urged NGOs to get homeless people off the streets and into safe environments where they can turn their lives around, according to a post on City Hall’s website.

Mr. Socheatvong said vagrants should be given longer-term care by NGOs, allowing them to be reintegrated into society rather than returning to beg on the city’s streets.

“When any organization receives them to live in their center, they must make a contract with City Hall and cannot let them return to their previous activities,” the post paraphrased the governor as saying.

Mr. Socheatvong added that the NGOs must work to quell rumors that after briefly caring for vagrants, they put them back on the streets to beg for donations for their organizations.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said 75 organizations took part in the meeting, but said he did not remember their names, apart from the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Mr. Dimanche said Mr. Socheatvong will on Friday visit the Prey Speu social affairs center, officially called the Pur Senchey Vocational Training Center, a temporary holding compound for vagrants that has long been plagued by allegations of abuse and a lack of training.

“City Hall requested all civil society organizations and NGOs to cooperate with the government to help to correct Prey Speu center,” said Mr. Dimanche. “City Hall wants to improve this center to become a center that has professional training and health services soon.”

Wan-Hea Lee, country representative of OHCHR, said in an email Thursday that the U.N. agencies and NGOs that took part in Wednesday’s meeting would “continue to advocate for voluntary community-based solutions” in dealing with the city’s homeless population.

“The Governor presented his vision for the sweeps and the care of homeless persons inside centers with improved facilities, and invited the NGOs present to support the work of the municipal social affairs authorities,” she said.

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