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Families have a month to leave protected land

Families have a month to leave protected land

ABOUT 173 Oddar Meanchey province families whose homes were razed by local authorities in May have been told they have a month to finish harvesting their rice before being forced off their land for good.

On May 25, more than 100 homes in O’Ampil village in Anlong Veng commune were burned down and dismantled by local authorities. Siem Reap provincial court had ordered that the homes be removed following a complaint filed by Forestry Administration officials, who accused the families of living illegally on protected land.

Citing the threat of disease and lack of infrastructure at a relocation site, the families defied the court’s orders and resettled in O’Ampil village on June 29.

Chhaom Chhoeun, an O’Ampil resident, said yesterday that villagers would resist relocation if authorities tried to enforce the new deadline.
“Even after we finish the harvest, we will not return to the relocation village because there is nothing there,” he said.

Meas Socheat, a village representative, said a 25-year-old man had died due to poor conditions at the relocation site. “A lot of people got sick with malaria, typhoid and diarrhoea.... one man died after drinking dirty water,” he said.

Yim Phanna, the governor of Anlong Veng district, declined to comment on conditions at the relocation site, but said the families “could not be allowed to live in a wildlife sanctuary”.

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