Saturday, December 18, 2004

Homelessness in Phnom Penh

By day Phnom Penh is alive and pumping with people on every street corner, sitting, talking, eating, gambling, smoking, drinking and just generally enjoying life. By night, the streets are full as well, but in the form of a tent city of homeless people taking care of themselves. To call them tents would perhaps be a tad generous. Instead they are mosquito nets, set up to protect the occupants from the numerous buzzing city-dwellers who spread malaria and it's viral friends.

PP has a major problem with poverty and homelessness that is impossible to ignore. Many of the moto drivers who dart through the streets during the day sleep on their bike at night, since it represents one of their few possessions and they have little else to turn to. The begging is also noticable, partly amongst the many thousands who have lost and limb or their mobility to land mines, but also amongst young, fit and presumably able people. It is worrying that a city with so much commerce and activity can also have such an obvious problem of homelessness.

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