COVID-19 Update: February 2021

Cambodia has experienced its third outbreak of COVID-19 in February. This ‘20Feb event cluster’ has resulted in 878 confirmed cases. At the time of writing, schools in certain regions remain closed and meetings of groups over 20 are banned.

While they have had to postpone workshops and awareness raising activities, Hagar staff can still visit clients (while adhering to government guidelines). Staff are worried about the impact of this outbreak and some of the trends they are seeing in communities. Some of Hagar’s young clients, for example, are struggling to study online because they do not have a smart phone or TV. Some clients also struggle to attend online class regularly due to limited access to the internet. Hagar staff continue to make visits and phone calls to encourage these clients to study regularly and work with families to make sure they have the materials that are available.

Hagar staff also continue to work with clients and families who have lost their income sources as a result of COVID. Emergency relief packages are being provided in addition to career counselling and exploring job placement opportunities.

COVID-19 Update: December 2020

Hagar Cambodia continues to operate as usual and all services are being provided as normal with the only exception being that gatherings of over 20 people are currently prohibited. Some community meetings have consequently been postponed. Hagar staff are meeting with clients face to face while adhering to government prevention guidelines.

With Buddhism being the leading religion in Cambodia, Christmas is not celebrated by most of the population however Christians still come together to celebrate and there are still lights and trees in the cities!

Due to a recent case of community transmission, all schools have closed down again for the next 2 week period. This new community transmission case is why gatherings of over 20 people are prohibited and the Ministry of Health has instructed people to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Hagar staff are continuing to observe the continual impacts of COVID in the lives of clients and their families. As reported in the last update, there is evidence that domestic violence and rates of child sexual abuse have been increasing. COVID has also had a significant impact on the nation’s economy with our staff on the ground reporting that 50% of the businesses run by families we work with are experiencing lower income. There are fewer job opportunities in communities and with the Thailand border closed there are limited options for gaining employment elsewhere. Our staff are concerned about the vulnerability this creates and the potential for illegal migration across the Thailand border and/or the false hoods traffickers could tell people about their ability to get people across safely and into jobs.

Hagar continues to work closely with clients and their families during this tough time and supports them as much as possible with food assistance, counselling and help finding employment. Hagar staff also continue to work with Government and other partners to coordinate the provision of resources to families impacted by the recent floods. Such support is deeply appreciated by those who receive it.

COVID-19 Update: November 2020

Hagar Cambodia continues to operate as usual and all services are being provided as normal. Hagar staff are meeting with clients face to face while adhering to government prevention guidelines.

As at the 9th of November, there have been a total of 297 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cambodia. 288 people have recovered and 9 people remain in recovery. Nobody is recorded to have died of the virus in Cambodia despite the first case being identified and confirmed on January 27th 2020.

Schools have begun re-opening across the country except for in Phnom Penh and Kandal province. Recently the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade visited Phnom Penh and upon arriving in Thailand after his Cambodian visit, tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, both state and private schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province will be closed for two weeks to prevent any spread. Nightclubs, cinemas and museums have also been temporarily closed. Our young Hagar clients living in other communities are happy to be going back to school and Hagar is providing them with school materials and uniforms as needed.

COVID is still having a significant impact on the national economy and on Hagar client’s ability to earn income. Many jobs and businesses have been affected and Hagar Case Manager’s continue to work closely with clients to assess needs and provide relief packages as needed. The Economic Empowerment team are also supporting clients with job placement, on-the-job training and skill training opportunities.

There are also signs of domestic violence and child sexual abuse rates increasing in the northwest region of Cambodia during this difficult time. There have been at least 21 new cases of child sexual abuse referred by local authorities and partners to our northwest project between August to October.

Like Vietnam, the last month has also unfortunately seen some areas of Cambodia, that have already been impacted by COVID, also struggling to come to terms with the impacts of flash floods. At least 5 clients’ houses have been completely destroyed while another 8 clients’ houses were partly damaged. Initially there was urgent need, both from Hagar clients and the impacted communities, for safe shelter, food, water and health care and of more ongoing concern is the threat of water-borne diseases such as malaria. Hagar staff have been working with local authorities and government agencies to support communities and allocate resources. So far, Hagar has provided food support packages to 48 clients and will continue to assist wherever they can to provide relief to these communities.

COVID-19 Update: October 2020

As of 6 October, Cambodia reported 280 confirmed cases of infection, only 4 patients are receiving treatment at the hospital; the rest have fully recovered. There are no coronavirus-related deaths during the country’s outbreak.

Even though the number of infections remain relatively low and stable, the pandemic has caused extreme economic distress on Cambodians. The closure of many factories has left 100,000 Cambodian workers unemployed. This number is likely to increase. The border closures have resulted in tens of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers returning to Cambodian with no employment prospects. Data from the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) in April 2020 showed that 91,499 migrant workers from Thailand were forced to return home due to losing jobs, and continue to cross back into Cambodia via both official and non-official border crossings

To survive, some families are moving from one place to another to seek jobs and get away from their creditors. Some children have been abused and forced to help generate income to support their family and pay debts.  Many people who tried migrating to Thailand to find work were arrested and sent back to Cambodia.


  • Based on current estimates, more than 90% of returning Cambodian migrant workers (84,226 workers out of 91,499) from Thailand are living in the Hagar-assisted areas, namely, Battambang, Pailin, Banthey Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kandal, Takeo, Kampoung Speu, Kam Poung Chhnang, Prey Veng, and Svay Rieng). Having lost their jobs and forced to return home, these workers are experiencing extreme anxiety about their livelihoods and abilities to provide for their families.
  • 74% of Hagar clients/family members have lost their jobs; 130 family members of clients who migrated to work in the city and Thailand were forced to return home when factories closed down. Driven by poverty and debt, some Hagar clients are forced by their families to help generate income through various means.
  • Food support was provided to clients who are experiencing urgent needs.


The Cambodian Government have allowed schools to reopen for Grade 9 and Grade 12 students so that they can take the national exams. During this period, Hagar provided school materials and uniforms to returning students and continues to educate them on safety measures to prevent community transmissions. Some parents have expressed concerns about their children’s education over the past months as they noticed their sliding school results. Hagar is working with students to ensure they receive adequate educational support during this crucial period.

Regular visits to client’s homes have resumed over the past 2 months. Counselling is done over face to face. Staff are able to travel to the provinces without any restrictions. However, teams are advised to exercise safety measures to protect themselves and the clients and families that they come in contact with. During this period, counsellors continue to adjust the treatment plan for clients to meet their evolving needs from the impact of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Update: September 2020

As of 14 September 2020, Cambodia has recorded 275 confirmed cases and almost all have recovered from the infection. There are no deaths linked to COVID-19. The majority of confirmed cases (more than 85%) are imported. Currently, there is no community transmission at this time of reporting.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) policy and technical advice on local preparedness and strengthening health systems have been implemented. The MoH continues to remind the public to stay safe and healthy by following the technical advice, especially during major celebrations such as events like Pchum Ben at the pagodas where large crowds are expected.

About 100,000 Cambodia migrants have left Thailand to go home as they become unemployed due to loss of jobs. Within Cambodia, more than 150,000 workers lost their jobs due to the closure and suspension of hundreds of factories. Responding to the increasing unemployment rates, the Cambodia Government has provided social support packages with monthly financial assistance to affected and very poor families with identification cards.

On August 26, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports announced for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools (both public and private schools) to reopen with safe distancing measures and proper disinfection practices in place. Students are expected to be back in school starting November. Hagar clients are looking forward to this with great excitement.

Even though the COVID-19 situation in Cambodia has improved with zero community transmissions, Hagar clients continue to face immense economic and job challenges and struggle to make ends meet.

To alleviate the increasing mental and financial stress on clients and their families, Hagar Cambodia has been providing food relief, counselling and livelihood and re-employment assistance to help them tide through this difficult period. Hagar counsellors are teaching relaxation techniques and other useful coping skills to clients to help them better manage their emotions and stress during this time. While counsellors are now able to visit and provide counselling to the clients face to face, communal activities are still prohibited. Hence, community outreach trainings and other major project activities remain suspended.

COVID-19 Update: August 5th 2020

As at the 4th of August, Cambodia has had 240 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 197 people have recovered fully and 43 people remain in hospital receiving treatment. There have been no deaths.

The Government restrictions allow for Hagar staff to travel to meet their clients in their homes but the Government continues to urge people to adopt preventative measures including wearing masks, practicing social distancing and keeping group meetings to 10 people or less. 20 private schools have been allowed to open but every other school remains closed and students are studying from online from home.

When meeting with clients, Hagar staff are focusing on helping them overcome their feelings of fear and anxiety that are arising because of COVID-19 both in Cambodia and globally. There is real concern about an outbreak of the virus and community transmission. Our Case Managers are providing information to our clients and their families about how to stay safe and protected and our Counsellors have been teaching them different coping techniques. Hagar staff are keeping a close eye on all clients and their situations and updating their care plans as needed.

Some of our younger clients are also feeling stressed about the fact that they haven’t been at school since March and, in addition to missing their friends, are struggling with their studies. Many of our clients are unable to access the internet or Tv and have parents who are working full time and thus do not have the time to help them with their studies. Our Case managers work with foster families, family of origin and kinship care to support our clients’ education at home.

Some of our clients have also lost their jobs. This loss of income has resulted in them struggling to provide for their families and Hagar has been providing emergency support packages to 48 clients during this time. Hagar Case Managers are looking for employment opportunities and some clients are being assisted in opening up their own small businesses.

Hagar Cambodia is operating at 100% capacity, and while recovery plans have had to be tailored to factor in COVID impacts, staff remain absolutely committed to meeting client needs and pursuing the long-term goal of transforming lives.

COVID-19 Update: June 13th 2020

We received the following update from Kia Helm, Acting Operations Manager of Hagar Cambodia, this week:

“As of June 13, there are 128 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Among these cases, 125 (97.65%) cases have been cured and discharged from hospitals. Only 3 cases are still active and under treatment. Most of the cases are imported cases. There is no community transmission yet. However, the World Health Organization (WHO), government called on the public to remain cautious about COVID-19. They reminded the community that a second wave of the virus is a “real threat. Religious gatherings, schools, casinos and entertainment venues remain closed.

Furthermore, Cambodia’s key economic pillars – the tourism and garment industries – have all been hit severely with several hundred thousand formal and informal workers being affected in this sector alone. Prime Minister Hun Sen recently predicted that the country’s economy may contract 1.9 percent this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) issued a direction on community aftercare program to local and international NGOs on 3 of June 2020. According to government direction, local and international NGOs who run community aftercare or community based care program can resume their business as usual. However, the government advised not to have a big group gathering with survivors more than 10 people and social distancing needs to be applied.

Hagar Cambodia’s operation is now fully functioned. Business is as usual. The teams have conducted their action plan to deliver services. Our priorities are to deliver pending activities that are funded by donors, facilitate clients’ employment and small businesses as result of impact of Covid-10 on their financial situation, and continue to assess and deliver emergency support to clients and ex-clients.”

COVID-19 Update: May 15th 2020

Cambodia has had no new COVID-19 cases reported for 30 days straight. Total confirmed cases are 122 as of Tuesday 12 May. 121 cases have been cured and discharged from hospital and only 1 still active.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Minister of Health have called on the public to remain cautious about COVID-19. They reminded the community that a second wave of the virus is a “real threat”.

Furthermore, Cambodia’s key economic pillars, tourism and garment industries have all been hit severely with several hundred thousand formal and informal workers being affected in this sector alone.

More than 180 factories in Cambodia have suspended operations while another 60 are at risk of closure. The situation impacts 200,000 garment workers directly and two million others indirectly according to Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

The government is reassessing the cost of assistance to laid-off garment workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as it braces itself to spend more on rising unemployment according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Religious gatherings, schools, casinos and entertainment venues also remain closed.

Although schools remain closed, the Government continues to provide online teaching and learning. Some of our clients don’t have a smartphone or can’t access the internet which makes studying difficult. More recently the Government also introduced a distance e-learning program on TV. However, our clients in remote villages do not have access to this.

Due to the warnings from the Government and WHO, the counsellors are still unable to physically visit their clients, so they continue to rely on phone counseling.

On a more positive note, we are seeing the level of stress and anxiety of some clients reduce due the COVID-19 situation easing.

COVID-19 Update: April 30th 2020

As at Tuesday, 28th of April, there have been 122 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Cambodia. However, 98% of these cases have recovered and been discharged from hospital and there have been no new cases reported in the last two weeks. The Cambodian Government has warned that the Coronavirus situation in Cambodia is still in the early stages and that a second wave of cases could occur at any time. Religious gatherings, schools and entertainment venues all remain closed.

Hagar Cambodia’s Case Managers continue to conduct assessments with clients and their families to identify needs and provide emergency support. Recently, the Economic Empowerment team worked with a supplier on a clean water project on behalf of a family in a remote area who couldn’t get access to clean water. Finally, this project was successfully completed and two Hagar clients and their mother can now obtain clean water from the well. They can also use the water from the well for their day-to-day living, gardening and raising animals.

Since there have been no new cases of COVID-19 in Cambodia in the last two weeks, some travel exceptions have been made and Hagar Cambodia staff are now also permitted to travel for certain, approved activities.

Hagar Cambodia staff were therefore able to travel to and support a client through her court case last week and they sent through this account of the day:

Champa* is 17 years old. She is also a young mother of a 2-year-old daughter, who is the result of rape from when she was 14. Her court case has been ongoing and Hagar team has been providing support to her in this process.

Her court case was supposed to happen in early April; however, her case was postponed  until the end of April due to Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia. Champa was unhappy about the delay because she always wanted her court proceeding to finish. Finally the court case occurred and our Hagar lawyer and counsellor attended and provided legal support to Champa in the courtroom and counselling to ensure that she felt emotionally supported.

Champa said: 

“I am thankful that both Hagar’s staff dedicated their time to support my court proceeding and emotional support to me. I would not be able to do it without a clear court proceeding explanation.”

Hagar Cambodia staff said of Champa’s court case: “Although, Covid-19 is a global threat and challenge, the survivors’ justice is still one of Hagar’s top priorities.” 

Such a story is a beautiful illustration of Hagar’s commitment to those women and children that we work with and that this commitment is unchanged because of COVID-19. Some of our other clients are experiencing a loss of employment and income because of the reduced capacity of businesses and others continue to struggle emotionally, but Hagar will continue to do everything we can to assist at this time.

Pictured above are members of the Hagar Counselling team. Please keep them in your prayers.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the client

Our Work in Cambodia

Listen to Longdy (a former Hagar client who now works as a counsellor) share his story with Steven Moe here. We are so proud of him!

With an estimated 256,800 people living in modern slavery, Cambodia has the highest level of slavery in the world after North Korea and Uzbekistan. Domestic and gender-based violence are common, with a recent UNICEF report revealing that one in five Cambodian men between the ages of 18 and 49 admitted to raping someone.

Hagar works directly with people who are the human face of these harrowing statistics. At the individual level, we ensure they have a safe place to live. We provide them with trauma counselling, medical care and legal advice to help them understand their rights and seek justice. They also have the opportunity to go to school, learn vocational skills or gain a university degree. Ultimately, because of Hagar they are able to overcome their trauma and be transformed.

At the national level, we work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia and police to increase their knowledge of trafficking practices and trauma informed care.

We also developed a toolkit for legal professionals, which is now being used across Cambodia to ensure that children who have survived abuse are not re-traumatised during the legal process. We are currently working in close collaboration with First Step Cambodia, to support the government in developing Cambodia’s first set of social work standards.

Help us Transform Lives

Donate Now

By partnering with Hagar, you're supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you. 

Help us Transform Lives

Donate Now

By partnering with Hagar, you're supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you. 


Help us Transform Lives

Donate Now

By partnering with Hagar, you're supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you. 


Help us Transform Lives

Donate Now

By partnering with Hagar, you're supporting survivors to heal from the trauma of severe abuse. Our work is dependent on charitable giving by people like you. 


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