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Displaced villagers call for help

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Villagers in Russei Keo district who were displaced by a fire over seven months ago have called on the government to help save them from the ravages of temporary settlement

Photo by: VANDY RATTANA

Residents of the Boeung Chhuk village in Russei Keo district say they are living in poverty and fear being evicted again, as they have heard the land on which they currently live is set to be developed.

UP to 700 families from Boeung Chhuk village in Russei Keo district will continue to live in temporary squalor, despite pleas for the government to help them after a fire destroyed their homes seven months ago.

 

"I don't know where I will go or if I can leave, but I really need help from the government now," said Seng Heang, who lost her home and now lives in a tent.

The Teuk Thla commune village burnt to the ground after a fire torched most of the cramped, multilevel dwellings. The inhabitants were moved to a nearby plot of land where they were given shelter by the Red Cross, but supplies have long run out.

"If the government does not help us, I am worried I will have to become a street woman," Seng Heang said.

The displaced residents have stepped up their plea for help after hearing the news that their temporary land will soon be used for development, making them homeless once again.

Sitting under her tent, Korng Sarin said that she is suffering as a result of her poor living conditions.

"Living here makes my children sick. It's hot, it floods, and there is no security," she said.

Vann Sophat, deputy director of communications and advocacy for the Cambodian rights group Licadho, called for the government to send officers to inspect the community's living situation.

"The government has an obligation to pay attention to these people and to make sure they have a suitable place or house to live in," he told the Post.

Tan Navin, Teuk Thla commune chief, told the Post Tuesday that there were arrangements being made to replace the villagers' land.

"We are making preparations for a place with good infrastructure to be rebuilt very soon this year," he said.

He added that he had received an order from the Russei Keo governor to carry out a survey of families living in temporary housing, and that out of the 700 families, only landowners who lost their houses in the fire would be given new land to rebuild.

"[For] the renters, we don't know," he said.

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