People & Power
Interview: Ith Sam Heng
Cambodia's minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation talks to People & Power.
Last Modified: 24 May 2012 07:25

Cambodia's Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation is the government department that oversees the orphanages in the country. It works with NGOs and other government agencies to build centres to look after Cambodia's orphans.

Despite a period of relative peace and prosperity in the country, and the fact that there are consequently fewer genuine orphans, the number of orphanages has grown between 2005 and 2010. The ministry says this rise has occurred because of the generosity of international and local donors who have chosen to support the institutions.

The ministry's goal now is to reduce the number of orphanages and reform those that remain. Assisted by UNICEF, it has begun to draw up a system in order to protect vulnerable families and children. In 2008, it adopted the Minimum Standards on Alternative Care for Children, which includes minimum standards for residential care for children as well as alternative care for children in the community. It has also prepared legislation to enforce the quality of care and support children receive, in line with the United Nation's Agreement for Children Rights.

The ministry additionally says it is developing a strategy of foster care for children from orphanages - and that placing children within secure families is the best way for them to grow up. In 2011, the government claims to have transformed 70 orphanages into children care centres in which children live with families based in the community.

With an estimated 500 orphanages in the country but only 270 officially registered with the government, the ministry will have its work cut out.

As Cambodia's Orphan Business went to air, CUCO, the orphanage featured in the film and which failed three government inspections after complaints by former volunteers, remained open for business.

Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.