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Airport dwellers displaced from ‘anarchic’ houses

Nearly 100 families who live in three villages in Por Sen Chey district’s Choam Chao commune near the Phnom Penh International Airport have been told by district authorities they have seven days to relocate and will be given no compensation.

The villagers protested in front of the Por Sen Chey district hall yesterday after they received a letter on Wednesday signed by district governor Kit Sopha, informing them of the seven-day deadline to evacuate their “anarchic” housing built against the airport’s southern-most fence.

However, the residents are refusing to relocate without compensation, claiming that they had the consent of district and commune officials to build so close to the airport.

“We buy the houses with signatures of the district and commune officials [allowing us to live in that area],” said Kheng Chey Lim, who has lived in her house for 10 years.

“But right now, they confirm that we build houses in anarchy. It is unsuitable that they order us to move with any compensation.”

Chey Lim said most of the residents in the area had lived in the allegedly illegally built houses for more than five years.

Another resident who gave his name only as Sreng protested the short eviction notice.

“My family is so poor. I have lived in this area for a long time. Now they order me to move without compensation. How can I do that? Where do I live next?” he said, fearing the entire community would end up homeless.

After meeting with Por Sen Chey district officials yesterday, the community was told to select 10 representatives to write a letter to Phnom Penh Municipality about their dispute.

In the eviction notice, authorities said homes would be demolished after seven days to keep order in Phnom Penh.

District Governor Sopha declined to answer a reporter’s questions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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