ASIA/CAMBODIA - The safeguarding of children's rights should be a priority in all countries around the world

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Phnom Penh (Agenzia Fides) - Today, November 20, Universal Children's Day is celebrated in a world where the rights of millions of children are violated every day. According to data provided by different agencies and organizations of the United Nations, there are 67 million boys and girls who do not go to school; about 200 million have to work to survive; more than 100 million work in conditions of semi-slavery, are exploited and abused by their 'masters'; about 70 000 adolescents, between 15 and 19 years of age, are forced to marry at a young age and 19,000 children die every day worldwide from preventable causes. To protect children’s rights, the Spanish Catholic NGO Manos Unidas has launched a project in Cambodia, in the village of Russey Keo, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the capital of the country. Families living in this slum are mainly workers with few resources, generally have precarious jobs such as street vending, drive taxis, tuc-tuc, work in the clothing industry, collect garbage or go fishing, and are unlikely to earn a dollar a day. The result of this devastating economic and labor situation is a childhood completely forgotten. The majority of children under 6 years of age lack in health care, education, protection, support and attention from their families. Many have to leave school because they are forced to work to support their families, or have to take care of their siblings. The poor, the orphans and the sick are the ones who have the most serious consequences, they are usually victims of abuse, or human trafficking. One of the first local NGOs in Cambodia, pioneer in the struggle for the defense of the basic rights of women and children was Khemara created in 1991. Manos Unidas joined this fight collaborating in the initiation and support of dozens of centers for primary education, nursery schools, which take care of nearly 500 children between three and six years of age. Here they have access to education, three meals a day and, above all, have a safe place to stay while their parents are at work. The center has a dual function: on the one hand allows both parents to go to work and increase the family income and on the other hand the fact that children go to school is almost a guarantee because parents allow them to subsequently attend compulsory education, allowing a level of education far superior to that of other children who do not take part in these programs. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 20/11/2012)