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Pursat families ordered to move

Twenty-nine families living in Pursat province have been given less than a month’s notice to pack up their belongings and move off state forest grounds.

Local authorities handed out the 30-day eviction order on Sunday, according to Chhorn Khorn, a resident living in Phnom Kravanh district’s Phteah Rong commune.

Khorn said the families were told they were il-legally squatting on 20 hectares of state forest.

“We don’t have anywhere to live. The area has been empty since 2004, which is why we have been living there. We know that it’s state forest, but we also want authorities to help us find another area to live,” Hom Savern, one of the residents being forced to relocate, said.

Savern said authorities threatened legal action if those occupying the land remained in the area past the 30-day deadline.

“Local authorities did not want to have problems in the future, so that’s why district authorities organised the meeting and told them to move,” Khorn said.

But forced relocation might not be the way to avoid trouble.

“Right now, locals are already struggling, so authorities should avoid forcefully removing them and instead provide other solutions,” Phung Sothea, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said.

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