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Small concession in eviction fight

Small concession in eviction fight

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Residents from Thmar Koul village protest their imminent forced relocation in Por Sen Chey district. Photograph: Hong Minea/Phnom Penh Post

Authorities have partially backed down on an order forcing 196 residents in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district to move their homes, but refused to scrap the plan completely when confronted at Chaom Chao commune hall yesterday.

Phuong Sopheap, one of about 20 residents that congregated at the commune hall, said officials refused to budge on compensation demands but had agreed to reduce the distance they would be forced to move, earlier in the week.

“Initially, the authorities asked us to move 10 metres from the airport’s fence, but we protested and it was agreed that we would move only five metres,” Phuong Sopheap said.

Officials were now re-measuring the distance between the fence and the houses based on the new five-metre agreement and had told residents to dismantle their homes by this Thursday, Sopheap said.

“We the residents are extremely concerned because the authorities were going to forcibly evict us without taking compensation into account,” she said.

A protester, who asked not to be named, said for the past two weeks the community had sought the intervention of NGOs and embassies to push the government for compensation.

“We have put our work on hold and won’t survive if we are spending all our time on this case,” the protester said.

Var Sarorng, deputy Chaom Chao commune chief, confirmed the five metre measurements were now being made.

“The commune authority only deals with dismantling and not with compensation,” he said.

Residents from Prey Chiksak, Thmar Koul and Kouk Chambork villages would be affected, he added.

The relocation announcement from Por Sen Chey district hall on July 25 claimed homes within 10 metres of the fence were part of a squatter settlement using it for shelter, and demanded they were dismantled.

Residents have refused because they have written permission from the commune and district hall to live there.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]

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