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‘Trapped’ families await titles

120206_05

When night falls at Srah Po village in Kandal province, Borei Keila evictees Joe Sreang, 32, his wife Touch Kanha, 28, and their four young children huddle together on planks of wood inside a small tent.

Shane Worrell/Phnom Penh Post
Former Borei Keila residents Joe Sreang, his wife Touch Kanha and their four young children in their tent at Srah Po village in Kandal province.

The piece of canvas that drapes delicately over shaky wooden sticks has been their home since January 3, when development firm Phan Imex demolished more than 200 homes at Borei Keila.

The family received $100 in compensation when they relocated to the village, in Ponhea Leu district’s Phsar Dek commune.

Joe Sreang, a construction worker, hasn’t worked since – he has no vehicle or money to travel the 80 minutes to Phnom Penh and cannot find work where he is.

“Sometimes I go to a nearby pond and rice fields to catch small fish and snails,” he said.

“But I am concerned for my family. $100 is not enough.”

Like other families, they feel trapped while they wait to be granted a land title, he said.

Touch Khorn, a representative of Srah Po villagers, said 95 of 130 evicted Borei Keila families at the site had been granted a plot, while others had been left waiting.

“They are really poor, so I want the company to provide land for them to build a house and make a living in the future,” he said.

Suy Sophan, the owner of Phan Imex, told the Post she would not give land to those who pretended to be Borei Keila residents or family members of those who had already received houses.

“I do not have such ability,” she said.

She did not say how long other familes would be made to wait.

Meanwhile, about 50 former Borei Keila residents who refused to move to Srah Po gathered outside the Court of Appeals on Friday with a petition calling for the release of seven villagers from Prey Sar prison.

Protester Chum Nguan said she was concerned the court had refused to release the villagers detained in clashes on January 3.

“I will keep filing an intervention proposal until a resolution is reached,” she said.

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