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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - HIV families struggle at site

HIV families struggle at site

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A child who was recently relocated to Tuol Sambo draws water from a pump on Tuesday.

Borei Keila evictees say their new home lacks clean water and proper shelters.

FAMILIES evicted last month from Phnom Penh's Borei Keila community said Tuesday that they were living in unhealthy conditions at the Tuol Sambo relocation site, citing overcrowded shelters without access to clean water.

The families, all of whom have at least one HIV-positive member, said the authorities had installed one well at the site, but that the water was dirty and unusable and had made some residents sick.

"We want the authorities to dig a deep well for us because we're paying a lot of money for clean water and will go through our US$250 soon," said Kim Leang, a resident and mother of a two-month-old baby, referring to the $250 in compensation that the Ministry of Tourism gave the 23 families that were relocated in mid-June.

The Borei Keila site, adjacent to the ministry, is to be converted into a garden.

Kim Leang said that in addition to the water problem, residents could not cope with the heat of their corrugated zinc shelters, which are smaller than the homes they left.

She said the heat had ruined antiretroviral medicines that many in the HIV-positive community depend on.

"We can't live in these houses, it's so hot. I'd like to see high-ranking officials come live in this place one day - what will they say?"

Vin Thy, 36, said children had fallen ill in their new homes.

"Five children are sick to the point of being hospitalised, the oldest of them 8 years old. Who can live like this, with the heat and no clean water?" she said.

"They abandoned us here like animals. They've never come to visit us or to check on our health or situation," she added.

Though the relocated families have complained about the new conditions, 24 other families from Borei Keila are asking aurhorities to place them in Tuol Sambo as well.

Former Borei Keila resident Pheak Kdey Neary said the families did not have proper homes anymore.

"We're just living in front of somebody's house," he said.

"I think if we go there and don't have clear water, it's better than living in front of somebody's house. It's the rainy season, so it's really hard for us."

Sao Vanna, chief of the Borei Keila community, said City Hall had already decided to place the families in Tuol Sambo.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said the water problems were temporary and that City Hall would dig a deep well soon.

"All the families sent to Tuol Sambo are living very good lives because they have new houses, money to do business and medical care close to them," he said. "They live better lives than before."

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