Cambodia has launched a crackdown on bogus orphanages. The crackdown aims to return 3,500 children to their families, a government minister said.
UNICEF will work with the government to reunite the children with their families.
Nearly one in five Cambodians live below the “national poverty line” and some families who are too poor to look after their children send them to orphanages in the hope they will be taken care of and given an education.
Many orphanages have opened over recent years, some unlicensed, unsafe and with few real orphans, raising concerns about neglect and abuse. The orphanage “boom” correlates with the surge in foreign tourism.
Some social workers have asked tourists to stay away from orphanages saying that so-called orphanage tourism enables child exploitation.
“There are many abuses inside orphanages,” Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Sauth said at last week’s launch of the crackdown
A recent government survey found 16,579 orphans living in 406 orphanages across Cambodia, far more than expected, officials said. More than a third of the orphanages had never been inspected.
Vong Sauth said an estimated 80% of the 16,579 children in orphanages were not actual orphans.