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Ministry of Social Affairs Gives Center for Orphan and Elderly Care 2 Months to Upgrade Facilities

PHNOM PENH: The Ministry of Social Affairs has given an orphanage/elderly care facility two months to reorganize after protests from locals who say the center is run for profit and is not equipped to care for those living there.

Located in Kampong Cham’s Thmor Keo village, the center was inspected by the Ministry of Social Affairs, who found that it was unregistered, disorganized and posed health and safety hazards to its occupants. Construction for the center started in 2019 and the grounds contain one apartment building and a kitchen. Support for the organization comes from former monk Chea Someala, volunteer monks, and philanthropists who are responsible for managing water, electricity, equipment, accommodation and food for the center.

At the time of inspection, the organization housed a total of 71 people including 43 children and 19 adults, most of whom are elderly women. The center employed six cooks, one cleaner and two security guards for all 71 occupants.

In a press release issued on September 11, spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Affairs, Em Chan Makara, confirmed that the organization had not applied for registration under current law and that the center had no childcare permit from the ministry.

He added that the inspection team found multiple violations with not enough rooms for the children and elderly, a failure to organize roommates by gender and age, and no access to hygiene for those living there.

The statement read, "The arrangement of clothing in the room is not orderly, the provision of food is not enough and there are no real donors, which is a risk for children. [There is also a] lack of management of flow systems, procedures, case management and knowledge for child protection."

The center’s president Lon Sam An says she is willing to improve the facilities for the benefit of society, so the Department of Social Services is allowing the organization to continue caring for the elderly for the time being, while the children will be sent back to relatives in their community.

The ministry is requiring the organization to update its procedures in accordance with legal regulations, specifically in its management structure, for which it must collaborate with local authorities to ensure appropriate care is provided for its elderly tenants.

The General Department of Social Services has given the organization two months to make the required adjustments and asked that local authorities coordinate with those who protested the conditions at the center to begin with.

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