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By Citizen Reporter


Building collapses, killing six children in Cambodia

Two of the children were infants, and it was unclear whether any of the other children who died were employed on the site.

The Cambodian worker’s union has requested a halt at a construction site after a building collapsed, killing six children in the process.

Two of the children were infants, and it was unclear whether any of the other children who died were employed on the site.

While child labour is common practice in the country, the construction boom has killed more than 60 people in the last seven months.

Thirty-six workers and their families died on Friday at an unfinished guest house in the coastal Kep Province.

“Do we want this to become known as normal in Cambodia?” said Sou Chhlonh, vice president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, after the building’s owners were charged with unintentional homicide.

“Cambodian people are dying,” said Chhlonh. “Cambodia has laws to protect them, but the laws need to be enforced.”

The union wants all construction projects frozen until they are inspected and compliant with legal and safety regulations, as growing crowds of Chinese tourists and investors have fuelled a boom that officials valued at $6.4 billion in 2017.

The workers say there are hundreds of kilns that provide what have been dubbed “blood bricks” for Cambodia’s building sites.

“You only have to go for a walk to see child labour in the construction industry,” said Khun Tharo, a programme coordinator at the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights, a charity.

While the government vowed to tackle child labour, 28 people died as a building site caved in while they slept, which occurred in June.

According to local media reports, the minister for construction and urban planning said that the workers and their children could no longer live on site.

In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, families were witnessed cooking and relaxing in their makeshift living spaces on building sites on Wednesday evening by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“That issue is still being addressed; it takes time to implement,” said government spokesperson Phay Siphan, adding that Cambodia was committed to wiping out child labour.

“If you see child labour,” Siphan said, “report it and authorities will close them down.”

(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa. Background reporting by News24 Wire)

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