Cambodia is an economically poor developing country that is likely to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Children's Future International (CFI) works in Ek Phnom, a rural community characterized by abject poverty, therefore we believe the impact will be even more extreme. With poor health facilities in rural areas and serious underlying medical conditions, Cambodia is at risk of a severe impact.
Ek Phnom is a large subsistence farming district where families have few resources. The COVID-19 dislocation will have a severe economic impact globally that is likely to continue for many years. We are already seeing a significantly large number of families returning from Thailand. The risks of high rates of unsafe, undocumented international migration and trafficking to increase as migration are seen as solutions to difficult economic situations.
Taking advice from partner agencies who have been through similar crises, CFI is concerned about potential child protection risks from the current COVID-19 pandemic including physical and emotional maltreatment, gender-based violence, unaccompanied and separated children, and child labor. Children in this poor rural area of Cambodia are already vulnerable and will be even more at risk as a result of the pandemic. Cambodia has a budding child protection system that is already limited. It is possible it will not be able to cope with the increased demand, and there is concern that funding will be diverted away from child protection and anti-trafficking and allocated towards public health and other priorities.
CFI is uniquely positioned to deal with increased child safety risks. Its established professional, results-based case management practice can respond immediately to high-risk cases. With strong connections in communities and local authorities, and understanding of the community needs, CFI will help facilitate community-led solutions by expanding its reach by building capability and raising awareness.
Children’s Future International (CFI), Cambodia is a colleague organization working against child trafficking.