Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Evictees abandon new land

Evictees abandon new land

A man washes clothes near his house in a relocation site built by Union Development Group in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district in March
A man washes clothes near his house in a relocation site built by Union Development Group in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district in March. Sreng Meng Srun

Evictees abandon new land

About half the Koh Kong province villagers relocated to make way for a Union Development Group resort project have abandoned the new homes provided for them, citing poor conditions and an inconvenient location, a village representative said yesterday.

More than 1,000 families living in the province’s Botum Sakor district were ordered to leave their homes and relocate to shabby wooden houses along clay roads in a mountainous area, far from their places of employment and lacking waters in which they can fish, said representative Sok San, 56.

“The homes are decayed; if we had money we’d fix it, but we don’t have money, so we just stayed,” San explained. “We don’t know what to do – the company blocked the area where we used to fish.”

On Sunday, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights country director Wan-Hea Lee visited San’s home, around which more than 60 relocated villagers gathered to tell her about problems with the new living arrangement.

Lee heard from villagers such as Hean Sophat, 45, who told her that, because of his limited financial resources, he was forced to move into a decaying wooden house with $800 in compensation.

“We did see wooden houses,” Lee said last night. “Some of [the area] has forest land; it needed to be cleared in order to be in a condition to cultivate plants, and they needed help with that.”

Elsewhere in Koh Kong, Deputy Provincial Governor Phay Thoun Phlam and a Chinese representative of Beijing-based Sinohydro Corp met with about 100 villagers in Thmar Bang district on Tuesday to discuss plans for the controversial Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam project.

“[They] told villagers about the Chinese company’s plan to study the effects [of the dam] . . . and asked the villagers what their concerns are,” Toeu Saban, Thmar Bang district deputy governor, said.

“If the study finds that the project will produce more problems than benefits, then it will be dropped,” he said.

The meeting came a day after a new 30-soldier military platoon was created in the area, an act rights groups described as an intimidation tactic.

But Saban claimed that it had “nothing to do with the company”. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Huge timber haul seized in Kratie raid, suspects sought

    Kratie provincial authorities were searching on Wednesday for the owners of hundreds of cubic metres of first-grade timber found loaded onto seven heavy trucks during a raid on a warehouse in Snuol district. After getting a tip-off, Military Police, police, Forestry Administration and court officials