UN Envoy Wants Better Deals for Sesan Villagers

A day after the U.N.’s human rights envoy promised to request help for villagers set to be displaced by the Lower Sesan 2 dam, Rhona Smith on Monday met with the Stung Treng provincial governor and asked him to help negotiate better compensation deals for the families, an official said.

During the meeting with governor Mom Saroeun, Ms. Smith raised the possibility of providing more money for villagers who will be displaced by the 400 MW dam when it goes online next year, said Men Kung, provincial hall spokesman.

“She asked us…to provide better compensation to the residents who are affected by the dam and said that this would encourage the affected residents to leave voluntarily,” Mr. Kung said.

Hydrolancang International Energy, a Chinese company building the dam, has said it will provide monetary compensation for the families, but many of them are still refusing to accept what they have been offered.

Ms. Smith also called on the government to ensure that the families—many of whom are ethnic Bunong—were relocated to land where they could practice their traditional customs, including maintaining spirit forests, Mr. Kung said.

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