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Cambodia Reacts to USAID’s Funding Cuts

Human Rights organizations expressed disbeliefs Thursday after USAID (United States Agency for International Development) announced its plan to reduce funding for anti-human trafficking NGOs in Cambodia, from $4.5 million to $2 million U.S. dollars.

The Cambodia Daily has quoted U.S. Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle as saying, “the USAID will now focus less directly on combating human trafficking and more on government issues, anti-corruption, and strengthening the rule of law.”

In a press conference Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey says that USAID is looking to increase its funds to Tier 3 countries, since they do not have the appropriate means to combat human trafficking. In 2006, Cambodia's efforts in combating sex trafficking paid off and the country was then placed on Tier 2.

Meanwhile, NGO Licadho's director Pung Chhiv Kek says that the cut might reflect USAID unhappiness with Cambodia’s efforts, because the government only charged perpetrators without power, money, and authority.