The practice of ‘cleaning up’ city streets of street living and working populations such as street sellers and beggars during high profile diplomatic meetings or visits is on the increase globally.
Recently a spokesperson from City Hall in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, confirmed that the above groups would be cleared off the streets and may be locked up in detention centers for the duration of the upcoming ASEAN summit meeting in the city.
At Friends-International we are concerned with ensuring that children and families are treated humanely and with respect to their rights at all times, and we have real concerns that solutions such as those above are not only fundamentally useless, but severely detrimental to people who are already in highly vulnerable situations.
That is why we collaborate closely with governments and local authorities to work to provide immediate safe and humane alternatives to the detention option (such as holiday camps for families, opening of centers 24/7 for the duration of the visits…) whilst influencing their long term behaviors and policies.
We call upon the world leaders and diplomats, at a time when Human Rights issues are high on their agendas, to recognize that their visits also have a huge social impact on those in society who are most in need of support, and we encourage them to work to develop systems that will reduce the negative factors of that impact.
More than ever all of us need to work together to build futures for the children, families and communities who lack opportunities in our world.
*adapted from a Khmer proverb ‘When the elephants fight, the ants are crushed.’