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Minorities to get land titles

Minorities to get land titles

AUTHORITIES will offer land titles to ethnic minority groups living in a community in Mondulkiri province, officials said, renewing a push to establish land rights in the wake of a partnership with international donors that fizzled out last year amid questions about its effectiveness.

“Our officers will ... begin land registration to provide land titles to people from ethnic minority communities,” Minister of Land Management Im Chhun Lim said Thursday.

Work will begin today on issuing land titles to more than 100 families in Mondulkiri’s Andoung Kraleung community in O’Raing district, said Beng Ren, director of the province’s department of land management. The move will mark the first time ethnic minority communities in the province have received land titles under the government’s programme of systematic registration, she said. Most of the families in the community are ethnic Phnong and Kreung.

“We are providing land titles to the community so that they can have documentation,” Beng Ren said Sunday. “If they had no documents, maybe they could have faced evictions.”

However, rights groups said authorities still have a long way to go in ensuring land rights, particularly for ethnic minority groups.

“It’s a problem for ethnic minorities in this province. Many of them don’t understand the importance of land titling,” said Hai Thy, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc in Mondulkiri. “The government should try to educate ethnic minority groups about the importance of land titles.”

In September, the government announced it had ended its partnership with the World Bank on a long-standing land-titling project because it came with “too many conditions”.

The Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), which began in 2002, was meant to ease land conflicts. But critics said the programme failed to protect the most vulnerable communities, particularly the urban poor living on highly coveted land that was earmarked for development.

Despite the criticisms, however, Nonn Pheany, a ministry spokeswoman, said the government had managed to issue 1.3 million land titles since the programme’s inception in 2002, including 228,000 land titles distributed last year.

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