Minister Warns Unicef Rep Over NGO Law Criticism

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong on Monday told Unicef’s new country representative to focus on helping street children and refrain from criticizing a controversial new law regulating the country’s NGOs and associations, an official said Monday.

Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said Mr. Namhong made the comments to Debora Comini during a closed-door meeting at the ministry Monday morning.

“His excellency requested that the new Unicef representative pay attention to Cambodia’s children, especially the poor children begging on the streets and collecting trash, and homeless children,” Mr. Sounry said.

“His excellency reiterated that the former Unicef representative [Rana Flowers] made a mistake when she talked about the NGO law in newspapers, and that Unicef has to cooperate with the government on how to protect children, and that accusations are not Unicef’s job,” he added. Ms. Comini began in her new role last week, said Bunly Meas, a spokesman for Unicef.

Mr. Meas said Monday’s meeting was merely a formal introduction, rather than an opportunity to discuss specific policy, and declined to comment on Mr. Namhong’s remarks about the NGO law.

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