News / Asia

UNICEF Concern Prompts Cambodian Investigation of Orphanages

Cambodian orphans play together as they wait for adoption at Kien Klaing orphanage center in Phnom Penh, (File)
Cambodian orphans play together as they wait for adoption at Kien Klaing orphanage center in Phnom Penh, (File)
Robert Carmichael

The Cambodian government has begun investigating the country’s orphanages; just days after the United Nations Children's Fund expressed its concerns that nearly three out of four children in the country's orphanages have at least one living parent.  

Earlier this week, UNICEF said most of the 12,000 children in Cambodia’s orphanages are, in fact, not orphans.   Nearly three-quarters of them have one living parent, yet the number of children in care has more than doubled in five years.

UNICEF said the number of orphanage centers has nearly doubled, to 269 facilities in the same period.

Just 21 of those are run by the government.  The rest are funded and run by foreign donors and faith-based organizations.

Tourism

UNICEF country head, Richard Bridle, told VOA he is concerned many centers have turned to tourism to attract funding and that, by doing so, they put children at risk.

Bridle says even the best-intentioned tourists and volunteers are funding a system that is helping to separate children from their families.

International studies have shown that children are better off in a family or community setting.
That also happens to be a much cheaper way of caring for them, says Sebastien Marot, the founder of Phnom Penh’s respected street kids organization called Friends International, which was established 17 years ago.

Money-making venture


Marot says the figures from UNICEF indicate a serious problem:  Either there is a misconception about stability in Cambodia in the 21st century, or "unscrupulous people" are engaging in a charity business and using children to make money.

"We have been working 17 years and we haven’t placed kids in an orphanage.  And, we are working with the most marginalized kids that have the most difficult families.  We haven’t placed any in an orphanage in eight years, except for heavily disabled or very, very sick, because the families are really in no capacity for taking care of them.  And, that is the real situation," Marot said.

Marot acknowledges that most tourists going to orphanages are acting out of pure motives when they visit the children and give money.

But he says there is little doubt that some Cambodian orphanages have been set up to make money from foreign tourists.

Visitors to Cambodia’s tourist centers of Phnom Penh, the temple city, Siem Reap and the beach resort, Sihanoukville, are regularly bombarded with pleas to visit orphanages.

Marot’s advice is that tourists should behave as they would at home.

"The real question is:  Would you do this in your own country?  No.  Have you ever visited an orphanage in your own country?  No.  Why?  Because an orphanage is a safe place for kids and has to have a child protection system - it is to protect those children," Marot noted. “They are already totally vulnerable.  Having people coming from outside is just not acceptable."

A spokesman for the Social Affairs Ministry, which is carrying out the inspections, admitted this week that the government does not know whether the thousands of children in care are being treated well or badly.

The spokesman says it is unclear how long it will take to inspect all 269 orphanages, but promises that those found to be sub-standard or in contravention of the law will be closed.   


You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid