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Life getting worse for City's eviction victims

Life getting worse for City's eviction victims

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life.jpg

As families at the Andong relocation area await their promised land, living conditions

at the site continue to deteriorate. In May 2006 thousands of families were evicted

from Phnom Penh's Sambok Chab village near the Tonle Sap and forcibly resettled to

this undeveloped paddy field 22km outside Phnom Penh.

A seven-day-old baby, born at the Andong relocation site, gets a checkup from Dr Sarin of the Licadho Medical team on February 13. The baby's mother said she smoked throughout the pregnancy, not knowing it could damage the baby.

Many families were told by City Hall they would be given parcels of land as compensation,

but nine months later they are still camping at Andong, which has no electrcity,

running water or sewerage, and public health is plummeting.

"The health of the people has got worse," said Dr Sarin Mean of the Licadho

Medical Team. "The main problem is diarrhea, which is caused by the bad conditions

at Andong. The water is dirty, the food bad; hygiene and sanitation are terrible."

The families have been forced to erect makeshift homes amid pools of stagnant, green

water which also serve as the community's latrines.

"When the weather gets hotter the situation will get much worse," Sarin

said. "The children pass stools anywhere, just on the ground. There are many

germs in their stools and these germs get into the water supply at Andong. People

then take this water to drink."

On February 13, two Andong villagers were collecting buckets of gray, murky water

from the pond adjacent to the site - which is also used as a latrine.

"We can't afford to buy the water from the [UNICEF installed water tanks]"

they said. "It costs 200 riel a bucket. We will boil this water and drink it."

And the chances of the families all being given their promised land seem slim.

"It's just math," said Marie-Laurence Comberti, President of the Association

Mondiale des Amis de L'Enfance (AMADE). "There are over 1,200 families left

but only some 300 parcels of land to give out. You can't do it."

Despite some achievements over the course of 2006, key donors have said the effective

regulation of land remains one of the most important development challenges facing

Cambodia today.

"It is a mixed picture," Canadian Ambassador Donica Pottie told the Post

on February 20. "There have been enormous achievements in issuing land titles

but the government of Cambodia and the donor community both recognize that implementation

of the land law and the regulatory framework is still a problem."

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