Municipality To Build Home, School for Street Children

Phnom Penh municipality will go ahead with a proposed project to build a home on the outskirts of the city for street children and children addicted to drugs, Gov­ernor Chea Sophara said at the city’s weekly meeting Mon­day.

The camp would be erected in Anlong Kngan village, Khmuonh commune, which has been a re­settlement area for squatters left homeless by slum fires at Tonle Bas­sac and Chbar Ampou communes. Deputy Governor Map Sarin said the city would buy          3 hectares of land in Khmuonh commune for $45,000.

“We cannot allow them to sleep on the street any longer,” Chea Sop­hara said. “They might be­come thieves of cars or motos parked on the street.”

The children will be taught skills that will allow them to support themselves, Chea Sophara said. The governor said last month that the school is necessary be­cause the city “can’t send drug users who are under 18 to jail.”

On Monday, Chea Sophara said the children will be required to “study hard” at the school.

Officials on Monday would not estimate how much it would cost to build or operate the home, or how many children it would house. Municipal Cabinet Deputy Chief Pheng Heng said a Japan­ese NGO had agreed to give more than $10,000 to the project, but said he could not recall the name of the NGO.

The proposed center is likely to be discussed further at a workshop scheduled for today at City Hall.

The project comes amid the city’s recent effort to clean up the streets in advance of the Ase­an summit scheduled for Novem­ber.

More recently, the governor has suggested establishing the country’s first-ever official foster care program to find stable homes for street children.

Phnom Penh has about 1,000 street children now, according to the NGO Save the Children Nor­way. But the number may in­crease considerably in coming years as more children are or­phaned by the AIDS epidemic.


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