Since Komar Rikreay’s creation in 1998, the needs in child protection have evolved from protection to orphans of war living in the streets in a fractured society to addressing the various issues affecting children which are now more out-spoken.
Exposure to human trafficking, although not clearly quantified, is a constant especially in poor areas. Cambodia is globally known as a country of origin, destination and transit of human trafficking.
Child labour (18.3% of children between 5 and 14 years old), domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandonment, extreme poverty, indebtedness and lack of transport and education infrastructures impairing access to superior education, are some of the other vulnerabilities affecting children referred to our organisation and challenges we meet to support them and their family.
But also, the uncontrolled expansion of residential care, not always regulated and sources of unnecessary separation as parents are led to think that their children will be better off within residential care.
> STREET AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN: Poverty and domestic violence push thousands of children into the streets. They live in unsafe conditions with no protection and often no record of their existence by the local authorities. In the streets, they face all kind of dangers: drugs, sexual abuses, lack of medical care and basic needs…
> CHILD-TRAFFICKING: Battambang is located in the North-West of Cambodia near the Thai border. Many families from the province migrate to Thailand in order to find employments there. They migrate with their children who are enrolled into commercial begging groups or forced to work; sometimes they fall into child prostitution also. But many of these children are caught by the Police and repatriated to Cambodia, without their families. When they are returned back to Cambodia, they become in danger of living in the streets where all kind of abuses are committed.
> CHILD LABOUR: In Battambang, some children that KMR’s team meet are working in the streets as recyclers, beggars, cleaners, vendors but most of them work on the rubbish station, working from 7 am to midnight sometimes. Working on the garbage station is one of the worst kinds of child labour. Indeed, apart from the impact on their moral development, children are breathing all day long the toxic fume of the dump sites and face skin and lungs diseases.
> LACK OF EDUCATION: Most children met through KMR’s various projects have never been enrolled at school. Indeed, parents do not understand the long-term benefits from education and would rather prefer to send their children to work in order to earn some incomes. Moreover, public schools have not a good fame in Cambodia, because of corruption and lack of quality in education. Gender inequality remains also strong in education and girls drop out of schools more often than boys to help for domestic tasks or to get married.
> YOUTH EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT: In Cambodia, the lack of opportunities to follow a curriculum at the university or vocational trainings implies that a lot of youth are unskilled. Thus they face some difficulties to find qualified employments and fall into migration and informal employments that endanger their health.