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Wat Damnak eviction starts

Photo by: Rann Reuy

A view of homes in Wat Damnak village that are set to be cleared for a road project.

SIEM REAP PROVINCE
THREE families in Wat Damnak village have been given until the end of the month to make way for a new road project, Siem Reap city officials said Wednesday, in the first wave of an eviction that will eventually affect hundreds of people.

Siem Reap governor Tep Bunchhay said authorities have issued a directive ordering the three families in Salakamroek commune’s Wat Damnak village to move before May 30, and stating that 29 other families will be required to move later.

Authorities want the villagers to move to a relocation site in Banteay Srei district’s Run Ta Ek commune. Tep Bunchhay valued the relocation site at US$10,000 per family, including the cost of building materials, and said that each family would also receive 1 million riels ($250) in cash.

Tep Bunchhay said it is possible villagers will receive additional monetary compensation in the future, but he said that the amounts demanded by some – between $5,000 and $7,000 – are unrealistic.

“If they do not go by themselves, we will move them by force,” he warned.

Moeun Naisim, a widow, said she was worried the relocation site would be too far away from her children’s school and hospital.

“I consistently have diseases in my body,” she said. “I do not know what I will do for health care if I live far away.”

However, another villager, Yin Seakleng, said she may accept the relocation offer. “I have only heard what officials have told villagers,” she said. “If it is true, it sounds fair.”

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