Faced with an increasing number of drug-using street children who steal from tourists, police in Poipet have stepped up the number of patrols.
“Many children are using amphetamines and sniffing glue,” said Pich Saran, chief of the Poipet border checkpoint police. “They are workers who live along the border at Poipet. They are picking pockets and creating disorder at the checkpoint.”
There are about 300 street children in Poipet, Pich Saran said. Some steal passports, mobile telephones and money from tourists who are crossing the border, he said. “We are concerned about these two problems [pickpocketing and drug use]. When there is good security and organization, more tourists will visit Cambodia.”
This year, an average of three to five tourists have been pickpocketed each day, he said. But now that more police have been stationed at the checkpoint in recent weeks, that number has dropped to just one or two tourists per day, he said. Police say there are no resources available to improve the lives of the street children.
“We have no center that will accept them and educate them to act the right way,” Pich Saran said. “They are sleeping along the road, at the checkpoint and at the gates of casinos.”
Nhiek Kim Chhun, deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said the number of drug-using children is increasing and spreading from Poipet to Sisophon, the provincial capital.
The province last week formed a border committee on drug use, he said.