Child Protection


A system's building approach

The social welfare system

The justice system

In the community and family

HIV prevention


In the community and family

Strengthening community and family-based mechanisms to protect and care for vulnerable children
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

An estimated 1.5 million orphans and vulnerable children are living in Cambodia, with up to 20,000 of them living or working on the streets of Phnom Penh. Some of these children are victims of forced labour and trafficking while others suffer from violence or abuse or are living with disabilities. Others – an estimated 85,921 children – are vulnerable due to HIV. In 2010, approximately 11,945 children lived in residential care – the last stop for children whose families have been devastated by poverty or whose parents have died.

For orphans and vulnerable children, HIV and AIDS can significantly change their lives. Almost 2 per cent of Cambodia’s children have lost their parents to an AIDS-related illness or are living in an AIDS-affected household. Many more children are left in vulnerable situations due to HIV.

Limited financial resources and even fewer social safety nets exist to support orphans and vulnerable children, including children affected by HIV and AIDS. Inadequate oversight at orphanages combined with an alternative care policy that lacks proper implementation has left many vulnerable children without proper care and with little hope to improve their lives.

UNICEF works with the government to ensure that vulnerable children and their families have the necessary support to help children realize their rights to a safe, supportive environment in which to grow up.

What we do

  • Promote successful models at the local level to increase the coverage of support, care and protection for vulnerable children and their families with a special focus on female headed households.
  • Support the government to develop and coordinate long-term societal behaviour change campaigns to address key child protection issues, such as violence against children, safe migration, birth registration and protection/diversion of children in conflict with the law.
  • Support the empowerment of children, young people, families, communities, and service providers with the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours required to replace a culture of silence with intolerance to violence and abuse.
  • Work with the government and civil society, including faithbased initiatives, to develop models to provide quality care and support to help families care for vulnerable children.
  • Promote access of vulnerable children and their caregivers to essential services, including social protection programmes.
  • Strengthen the integration of faith-based approaches to care and support for families affected by HIV with national social protection efforts to protect vulnerable families and children from economic and other shocks.
  • Assist local government to provide vulnerable children in need of alternative care, including children affected by HIV and AIDS, with access to safe and appropriate alternative care options.
  • Support the government to improve coordination, linkages and referral among social, health, education and communitybased services at the local level, in line with local governance reform and the national social protection strategy.

Strengthening community and family-based mechanisms to protect and care for vulnerable children
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod


In 2007, the government adopted a national plan of action on orphans and vulnerable children and established task forces at the national and provincial levels, strengthening partnerships between the government, UN agencies and NGOs. Efforts like these are helping to alleviate the risks and vulnerabilities that orphans and vulnerable children face, including children living with disabilities and children affected by HIV and AIDS.

National and provincial government and non-government partners, along with religious stakeholders, implemented a large-scale care and support programme for people living with HIV and their children. In 2010 alone, nearly 5,000 adults living with HIV and 3,358 children affected by HIV received spiritual, material and cash support from Buddhist monks in half of the nation’s provinces. More communities are starting to take the initiative in caring for orphans and vulnerable children, including those impacted by HIV and AIDS. Today, 70 per cent of the nation’s communes have at least one organization that provides HIV and AIDS-related care and support to families with orphans and vulnerable children.



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