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Sihanoukville villagers seek relocation land

ABOUT 80 people accused of living on public property gathered in front of Preah Sihanouk provincial hall on Thursday, calling on officials to grant them land for their relocation.

Ek Vithean, a representative from Spean Chhes village in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune, said that the residents, members of three villages accused of living unlawfully on pavements, had protested after receiving no response to earlier complaints.

“In 2008, provincial authorities conducted research about the number of families in our community, and then in November 2009 they allowed us to fill in forms proposing our relocation,” he said. “But after we submitted the forms of 107 families everything has been quiet, so we have come to ask them about our process.”

On Thursday, the provincial cabinet told villagers that their forms had been sent to authorities in Phnom Penh, Ek Vithean said, adding that the group now plans to make its way to the capital on Sunday.

Boun Narith, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said the villagers’ current living situation is negatively affecting their health. “In this province we still have a lot of free land belonging to the state, so it should be provided to them,” he said.

Preah Sihanouk Governor Sbong Sarath and Cabinet Director Am Sam Ath said on Thursday that they did not have time to discuss the issue.

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