The Borei Keila "land share" scheme - Phnom Penh's so-called "progressive" urban
development - remains in trouble as rights groups accuse City Hall of reneging
on its agreement to house both owners and renters in apartment buildings built
by the private developer.
Children at the Borei Keila dumpsite, where authorities are threatening to move more than 100 families.
More than two months after bulldozers tore
through their homes, more than 100 families are still living in rubble and
facing the threat of eviction to a local dumpsite.
include 25 families who were deemed eligible for apartments after an extensive
public hearing process conducted by City Hall, local authorities, UN Habitat and
human rights group Licadho.
Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, said they
were concerned about the condition of the evicted families, particularly with
the onset of the rainy season.
"Conditions are unsanitary and unsafe,"
she said. "Flooding will make the conditions much worse - it's a recipe for
Pilorge said immediate action must be taken "to ensure humane
living conditions for the evictees."
She said only three renting
families had been given apartments so far, and City Hall was failing to honor
its commitment to the remaining 25 families.
"Borei Keila is supposed to
be a model project, to show that it's possible to develop an inner-city area
while still respecting the housing needs of the urban poor," she said. "The
treatment of the renters is jeopardizing this, and tarnishing the reputation of
Under the initial 2003 agreement signed off by Prime
Minister Hun Sen, homeowners who were living "permanently" on the site and
renters who had been living in the settlement since 2000 were considered
eligible for apartments in 10 buildings constructed by the private developer.
The "land-sharing" project was hailed as "progressive" because renters
and owners were, for the first time, given the same rights.
two buildings were opened March 23 in a highly publicized ribbon cutting
Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun told the Post on May 16 that he
was choosing 170 families to occupy the third building, but would not confirm if
any of the 25 eligible renting families would be given apartments.
Somethearith Din, a UN Habitat advisor to the municipality, said City
Hall was reviewing their original policy and had tightened the criteria for
"They have changed their mind. They did a review of the
first two apartment buildings and saw that some had been sold. Now they're
worried that if they give apartments to renters they might sell."
said City Hall was also concerned about setting a precedent.
worried that if they give apartments to the renters for free they will have this
problem again and again," Din said. "They haven't refused to give apartments to
the renters, but they will give them to owners first."
Din said the
renters may have to wait until the ten apartment buildings were completed, which
could be at least another three years.
He said City Hall would provide
temporary shelter for the evictees, both at the current site and at the Borei
Keila dump site.
Another 23 renting families living with HIV/AIDS who
were moved to temporary shelter and denied access to the public hearing process
are also facing an uncertain future.
"We feel abandoned," Penh Sim, 47, a