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The Anti Trafficking and Reintegration Office (ATRO) of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation was set up in 2006 in response to concerns that women and children repatriated or deported across borders, picked up in raids on brothels or found to be living on the street were not being returned to their homes in a systematic and supportive way and thus were less likely to remain successfully in their own families and communities.
This current research identifies that whilst the ATRO is charged with reintegration support and follow-up, which in the procedural documentation includes family tracing and family assessment, in reality the follow-up support is minimal, is not provided systematically or consistently and is dependent in many cases on continuing support from NGO partners. Additionally the office does not involve itself in any anti-trafficking activity and thus its name is in itself somewhat misleading. Anecdotal reports indicate that as many as 50% of cases opened are closed unsuccessfully with the social worker having lost touch with the client. NGO’s also report seeing clients back on the streets or returning to shelters following what they believed had been successful reintegration procedures. The overall system is failing to address the underlying causes which result in the internal and external movement of people, and the focus on ‘victims of trafficking’ is a distraction from the lack of adequate social protection systems available to Cambodian citizens. Additionally the services provided by NGO’s do not necessarily meet the needs of clients e.g. vocational training in tailoring may not provide an adequate income for a young women in a remote rural location where the availability of cheap imported second hand clothing outstrips the requirement for handmade clothes. Proper maintenance of adequate case files and documentation is sporadic and the capacity of the social workers of the District Offices for Social Affairs (OSVY) to respond to unstipulated situations or to the changing needs of clients is in question e.g. social workers did not demonstrate that they referred clients who had moved out of district to the corresponding OSVY. Quality of management including appropriate supervision and monitoring is inconsistent and confusion is evident in the perception of the roles of the donor (UNICEF) and the service provider (MoSVY).
Nevertheless the personnel involved in the service have had specific, if limited training in the provision of support to vulnerable people and in particular basic case management strategies and it is concluded that these could be built upon in the future in order to provide more generic social work supports for vulnerable children and families and as a focal point for referral and case management within the context of proposed sub-national government reforms.
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