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Evictions at airport planned

A man tends to his shop yesterday on a property in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district that has been marked for destruction
A man tends to his shop yesterday on a property in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district that has been marked for destruction. Pha Lina

Evictions at airport planned

Dozens of houses have been marked for demolition near Phnom Penh International Airport as authorities say the families must be moved to bring the site in line with international standards.

Civil aviation officials visited Chrey Chisark village in Por Sen Chey district’s Choam Choa commune with cans of spray paint, marking the houses that would be removed.

Sok Nath, 45, a villager whose house has been marked for eviction, yesterday implored the authorities to issue a land certificate to his family.

“My family has lived in this village since 1980, so we do not want to move from this peaceful village. We want to spend our lives here if the authorities were to give us a legal certificate,” he said.

The move could spark fresh protests against evictions at the airport, where another community in 2012 welcomed US President Barack Obama to Cambodia by painting “SOS” on their roofs in an attempt to highlight forced evictions.

In July 2012, 182 families were told their homes would be demolished to make way for a “buffer zone” around the airport. Residents maintain they live on the land legally, but City Hall says they have built their houses illegally.

Nath added that the plan for the “buffer zone” only affected a third of his property, meaning he should be allowed to continue to live on the remainder of his land.

Soy Sokhan, deputy secretary of state for civil aviation, said that if the families were not moved, the International Civil Aviation Organisation could blacklist Phnom Penh International Airport, which would severely reduce the number of inbound flights, adding that the demarcation had been carried out so that appropriate compensation could be determined.

“Until now, we did not know the number of the houses that will be affected by the plan,” he said, adding that the data collected by the team at the airport would be sent to an interministerial panel, which would then decide on the levels of compensation.

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