Amnesty International has called for urgent action to prevent the forced eviction of 31 HIV/AIDS-affected families living in temporary housing in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community.
The families have been living in two structures constructed from corrugated metal since 2007, when the municipality moved them out of their homes to make way for new apartment buildings. City authorities have now set a May deadline for their eviction and relocation to housing 20 km away in Tuol Sambou village, Dangkao district.
“The living space is not sufficient for an average family, and [the] buildings are too close together for safety and ventilation,” the rights group said in a statement about the relocation site.
Amnesty also denounced the location of the new housing. “There are no adequate health services at or near the proposed resettlement site, and transport costs to continue anti-retroviral treatment and access to medical services would be prohibitive.”
In an interview last week, Borei Keila resident and HIV patient Vin Thy said her family would not be able to make ends meet in Tuol Sambou. Like many of their neighbors, she and her 11-year-old daughter make their living as trash scavengers.
“The authorities say the resettlement site is good, but why don’t they move there too to test how difficult it will be?” Ms Vin Thy asked. “We earn less than $2.50 a day, but we will be paying $5 or $6 for roundtrip moto-taxis [to central Phnom Penh].”
However, Prampi Makara District Governor Sun Srun said Friday that the families slated for relocation have no legal claim to their homes in Borei Keila.
“They must accept this offer,” he said by telephone. “I don’t think living at the new place will harm their lives, because to be human, they must start a new life there and must struggle by themselves because City Hall and the authorities have already helped them a lot.”