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Discrimination claimed in issuance of IDPoor cards

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
A woman living near the railroad tracks in the capital prepares freshwater clams for sale. KT/Tep Sony

Some Phnom Penh residents are claiming that they are living in extreme poverty but are unable to obtain IDPoor cards for food and medical aid due to discrimination by local authorities.

Sat Pha, who claims to represent poor women in the Boeng Kak community in Russei Keo district, said yesterday she had heard the government had distributed the cards to poor people, but she had never received any information from local authorities for her group members to present themselves for registration.

“They [local authorities] know which families are poor so they should come to us to provide a card or donation, but I don’t see any information about this,” she said.

Soeun Chan Mony, Russei Keo commune councillor, said yesterday that a few days ago the authorities had issued cards to 47 poor families but he did not know if the village chief had added the names of the Boeng Kak community women to the list of poor families.

“Because we have not interviewed them yet, I will ask the authorities to search for their names in the list of poor families. If their family is really poor, the authorities will give them a card,” he said.

Ny Son Dus, a representative of the Village Community 23 who live near the railroad tracks in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district, said yesterday she had asked village and commune authorities to issue the IDPoor card, but they refused to do so as her family could earn more than $1.25 a day and her husband is a civil servant.

“During my interview when I applied for a card, the village chief said our income exceeds 5,000 riels [$1.25] per day,” she said. “I have health problems and cannot afford to spend for treatment. I want a poor card [equity book] so that I can get free treatment every time I go to hospital.”

Ministry of Social Affairs director-general Chhour Sopannha said yesterday the authorities are still identifying more poor families.

He said that after families apply for assistance at the commune office, authorities will arrange a visit to their houses to interview and establish their eligibility.

Mr Sopannha said not every applicant will receive assistance and it will depend on the circumstances of the family.

“Those who do not get [IDPoor] cards always say that the authorities have discriminated against them. We have to be careful when giving out the cards as there may be people who cheat just to get money while those deserving the aid get left out,” he said.

Yong Kim Eng, president of People Center for Development and Peace, said yesterday it was a good and timely response by the government to resolve people’s needs.

“The government must act without political prejudice. The authorities should not practice nepotism and earn the trust of the people by working with independent partners to jointly identify the poor,” he said.

The government has earmarked $25 million per month to help more than 560,000 poor and vulnerable families who are affected during the coronavirus pandemic.

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