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Evictees sick as rubbish piles up

A Borei Keila villager sifts rice next to piles of rubbish outside her home in Phnom Penh
A Borei Keila villager sifts rice next to piles of rubbish outside her home in Phnom Penh. KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA

Evictees sick as rubbish piles up

Evictees of Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community appealed yet again to municipal authorities for alternative housing yesterday, saying garbage and waste has inundated their current settlement and is making it increasingly difficult to enter and exit the area.

Borei Keila residents were evicted from their land on January 3 last year as Phan Imex employees, backed by local authorities, demolished about 300 homes.
Many have lived in tents at the site ever since.

“We demand that Phnom Penh municipal officials and the company [Phan Imex] publicly announce where they stand in solving the housing problem in [the] Borei Keila development area,” village representative Sar Sorn said. “We do not trust their promises anymore because we are living without government protection.”

Respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases are plaguing the community due to the settlement’s lack of public infrastructure, mounting waste problem and polluted environment.

Has Sochenda, 34, a six-months pregnant evictee, told the Post she is worried the settlement’s increasingly toxic environment will damage the health of her unborn baby.

“Currently, our living conditions are worse than pets’ because rubbish has been thrown on our roof and is blocking our path. But there are no [municipal] officials involved to solve the problem,” she said.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for the capital’s municipal hall, and Veal Vong commune chief Keo Sakal could not be reached for comment.

Yi Soksan, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said the Borei Keila land dispute needed to be addressed by government officials immediately for the sake of national policy and development.

“Leaving the small problems [behind] will only make those problems become bigger and more complicated, which leads to serious human rights violations,” Soksan said.

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