Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - As green shelters go down, more families face eviction

As green shelters go down, more families face eviction

As green shelters go down, more families face eviction

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Following the forced relocation of Borei Keila’s HIV community, 10 more families say they are in danger of losing their homes

Photo by: CHRISTOPHER SHAY

A family packs up their belongings in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community amid eviction fears.

TEN families from the green shelters in Borei Keila are facing eviction today, potentially leaving them homeless in order to make room for a garden in front of a new Ministry of Tourism building set to open in September, residents told the Post on Monday. These 10 families, according to governments officials, are eligible for on-site housing.

"They said they will tear down our house, so where will we stay?" Ngem Thida, a Borei Keila resident, asked.

The families are a mix of long- and short-term renters and are not part of the HIV community that was evicted last Thursday, according to Sok Ath, the chief officer of the district's development programme.

Five other families who do not have documents showing that they have lived in Borei Keila since at least 2000 met with district officials on Sunday and were given 100,000 riels (US$25) and asked to leave, Sok Ath said.

But residents and officials say the remaining 10 families are eligible to receive nearby apartments.

"There are only 10 families left in the green shelters, and they are members of the Borei Keila community. They will receive homes in the community," Sok Ath said.

I told them don't tear down our house and tried to stop them.

Journalists and representatives from rights groups were either forcibly removed from the area surrounding the green  shelters or barred from entry, leaving them unable to see what was happening inside. But residents say they tried to prevent the demolition of a few houses and are terrified that - despite government promises - they will be made homeless.

"I told them don't tear down our house and tried to stop them, but I don't know if they will listen," Ngem Thida said.

Em Sovanary, a Borei Keila resident, told the Post, that she worries the government will forget about them once they are out of the way.

"I do not want them to tear down our house because I am afraid that they will not recognise us after it is torn down," she said. "They should give us the land title first before they tear down our house. Otherwise, I could not believe them."

Government assurances

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said that the families should not worry and promised them all apartments.

"The 10 families who live in the green houses should not be scared. They should prepare to live in the new apartments," he said.

Sok Ath said Monday that the families were still living in the community, but before being pushed out by security, a reporter saw the families packing up their belongings, ahead of their possible evictions later.

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