Japan will provide more than US$1 million in financial aid for Cambodia’s efforts to help drug abusers kick their habits, a UN official said on Saturday.
“It’s vital. It will save people’s lives. There’s no doubt about it,” said Graham Shaw, director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.
The aid, totaling US$1,176,000, will be used for several treatment and rehabilitation programmes administered by the UN agency.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced the funding Friday.
Shaw said 3% to 4% of Cambodia’s 13 million people are estimated to be drug users, many of them young people.
Japan’s donationâ€”the first to Cambodia by any foreign government for drug abuse programmesâ€”was “urgently needed and one of the most welcome support programmes we’ve ever had,” Shaw said.
He said he will subcontract at least three non-governmental organisations and one government agency to carry out the three-year anti-drug projects.
A government drug treatment centre in Cambodia is barely operational due to its lack of resources. Several centres run by non-governmental organisations to help street children quit drugs can’t cope with the growing number of addicts, Shaw said.
Japan’s aid comes after Cambodia’s legislature on Friday ratified three UN conventions on drug control.
Cambodia, while not a major drug producer, has increasingly become a market for amphetamine pills and a transit point for heroin trafficking from the notorious “Golden Triangle,” the area where the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos converge.
Shaw said the ratification was “an excellent step forward” for Cambodia’s commitment to combat drugs.