AFTER weeks of eviction rumours, the forced relocation of a community of families where at least one member has HIV/AIDS will take place this week, according to the Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun.
The HIV-affected families will be moved 20 kilometres away from their current neighbourhood near Olympic Stadium to the outskirts of Phnom Penh, where they will be housed in green, zinc shelters, far from the life-saving medical services they need.
"This week the authorities of Phnom Penh will move 23 HIV families from the Borei Keila community to Tuol Sambo," Mann Chhoeun said.
He added that the Ministry of Tourism has spent 20 million riels (US$4,800) to purchase two tuk-tuks for community members to travel into the city to receive medical treatment.
Right now, the Borei Keila community consists of 32 families affected by HIV.
But Mann Chhoeun said that nine of these families will receive on-site housing after they were able to provide documentation that they had been living at Borei Keila for at least five years.
They move us to tuol sambo ... they want to keep us separate from other people
In Borei Keila, however, families said that the government has not provided anybody with official confirmation that they will receive on-site apartments.
Community members also said they believed 11 families, not nine, would be receiving flats.
Seang Vy, a blind HIV-positive mother who has been informed - though not provided with documents - that she will be receive an apartment remains worried.
"I only have a little hope that I will receive a flat in Borei Keila," she said.
Suon Davy, 42, another HIV-positive Borei Keila resident, said that the government had intentionally separated their community from the rest of Borei Keila and that this discrimination will continue at the new site in Dangkor district.
"City Hall discriminates against us," she said.
"They move us to Tuol Sambo, which means that they want to keep us separate from other people," Suon Davy added.
Manfred Hornung of the Cambodian rights group Licadho said that this separation violates a 2002 AIDS law, which requires a nondiscriminatory approach to combating the virus.
"If you take entire families to an isolated spot where everyone can point at them, it's definitely a breach of the HIV/AIDS law," he told the Post.