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Siem Reap families uprooted

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A woman being relocated from an area near the Siem Reap river speaks yesterday as homes are dismantled in the background.

Nineteen families in Siem Reap town’s Sala Kamroeuk commune were yesterday the first to be moved from along the Siem Reap River as part of a plan to relocate more than 1,000 families.

Officials have said the families are being relocated as part of a provincial plan to widen the river to protect the town from the effects of flooding and develop the riverside.

“Residents received compensation according to the size of their house [on the riverside],” Siem Reap district governor Tep Bun Chhay said yesterday, adding that there was a hospital, a school, a well and electricity in the relocation area.

Provincial governor Sou Phirin said families resettled in Sambuor commune would receive compensation, along with 7x15-metre plots of land.

Resident Heng Tich said the US$662 in compensation he had received was “small”, and expressed concern about obtaining documentation proving land ownership.

“If in future, the authorities don’t give [documentation] to us, it means we are living on government land again,” he said.

Eung Bunthy, who has lived on the riverside for 30 years, said he had relocated to Sambuor commune’s Vel village, four kilometres from the town centre, and had received $1,550 but was concerned about schooling for his children.

In November, a fire reportedly caused by an electrical fault destroyed 27 riverside stores belonging to families among those set to be relocated.

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