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Ministry To Seek Out Fraudulent Orphanages

A group of Cambodian orphans gather and play while an orphanage worker looks on (File photo).

Cambodian authorities say they will begin inspecting orphanages across the country, following concerns that many children living in the increasing number of facilities have parents.

Unicef said this week it remains concerned with the high number of reported Cambodian orphans, around 12,000, and the multiplying number of orphanages, which have more than doubled in the five years.

The UN agency said nearly three in four children at orphanages have at least one parent. The concern is whether children with parents are being used to draw funding to orphanages.

Of the estimated 269 orphanages in the country, only 21 are run by the government, according to the report.

“We have the best interests of the child in mind, and at the moment we believe that many of these orphanages do not have the best interests of the child at heart,” Unicef spokesman Marc Vergara told VOA Khmer Thursday.

Unicef will work with the Ministry of Social Affairs and non-government groups to look into the orphanages, he said.

Lim El Djurado, a spokesman for the minisry, said inspections will take place to ensure the orphanages comply with the ministry’s standards and policies. Substandard centers will face closure or other measures, he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that while the inspections fall under the purview of the Ministry of Social affairs, his ministry was ready to help investigate and intervene in orphanages that do not comply with the law.