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Villagers in Koh Kong locked in land dispute with Chinese firm

Villagers in Koh Kong locked in land dispute with Chinese firm

Villagers in Koh Kong province continued clashes on Friday with a Chinese company developing a multi-billion-dollar tourism project on the Kingdom’s coast with which they are locked in a land dispute.

Srey Mao, a resident of Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district, said employees of Union Development Group were attempting to uproot fence posts on the land of roughly 40 families whose property overlaps with the project.

“Those who have had their fences removed have yet to receive any compensation,” she said.

Of the over 1,100 families that company and government officials have deemed affected by the project, only about 30 have yet to accept compensation, Koh Kong provincial deputy governor Sun Dara said.

Of the families that have moved, however, only 200 so far have received compensation, said In Kong Cheat, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho. This compensation has come in the form of small plots of land six kilometres away in Thma Sar commune, he added.

Some of the affected families have homes on the site, which spans 36,000 hectares in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, while others have farmland that overlaps with the project, said Neang Boratino, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. Local military police have been working to provide “security” for Union Development workers, he added.

Neang Huot, 47, of Botum Sakor, said the compensation offer was inadequate because the plots are small and the area is unsuitable for farming.

“The government should help solve this issue for the people,” he said. “I have depended on my rice field, and now I am concerned that I will have nothing to feed my children.”

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