Cambodian dam a ‘disaster’ for local communities, rights group says

Rights activists allege that a Chinese-financed hydroelectric project in northeastern Cambodia has been a human rights “disaster” after it displaced nearly 5,000 Indigenous and ethnic minority people.

The Lower Sesan 2 hydroelectric scheme was completed in northeast Cambodia in 2018. The reservoir flooded 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) upstream of the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok rivers, two tributaries of the Mekong. Villages, places of worship, ancestral burial grounds and forests were submerged, and nearly 5,000 people were displaced.

A recent report from U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch last week assessed the impact of the Chinese-financed project as a human rights “disaster” for the communities that lost their homes and livelihoods.

“The Lower Sesan 2 dam washed away the livelihoods of Indigenous and ethnic minority communities who previously lived communally and mostly self-sufficiently from fishing, forest-gathering, and agriculture,” John Sifton, HRW Asia advocacy director said in a statement.

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