Borei Keila Evictees Call for Gov’t Clarification

About 30 members of the displaced Borei Keila community rallied outside Phnom Penh City Hall on Friday, seeking clarification about the compensation on offer to them amid complaints that municipal authorities have not been keeping the community informed.

The protesters belong to 154 fam­ilies that were given final of­fers of compensation last month after years of demonstrating against their evictions from the Borei Keila site, which was awarded in 2003 to businesswoman Suy Sophan, who promised the residents alternate housing in on-site apartments—many of which nev­er materialized.

Last month, 35 of the holdouts were offered an apartment built by Ms. Sophan on the land they were evicted from; 85 families were given the choice between $5,000 or a plot of land and a home at a resettlement site 25 km from the city center; and 34 were offered $3,000 in cash. All were given one month to consider the offers, which expire on Sunday.

But they still have questions about the proposed compensation.

“We came to ask City Hall for an exact date that we can move into the houses in Borei Keila, and for those who agreed to compensation and relocation, when will they receive what they have been offered,” Chhay Kimhorn, a longtime representative of the group, said outside City Hall on Friday.

“We are concerned that City Hall has done this [offered the compensation] just to make them look good, because since they displayed those [offers], we have heard nothing.”

When the compensation offers were presented last month, the majority of the claimants were disappointed, and most vowed to fight on until the entire group received apartments on the Borei Keila site, as was initially promised.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director at the Housing Rights Task Force, an NGO that has long ad­vocated for the Borei Keila community, said he planned to meet with representatives of City Hall and Phanimex on December 21 to draw up contracts for those who accept the compensation, and to decide on the next step for the holdouts.

All of the 35 families offered on-site apartments would accept the housing, he said.

Of those offered a choice between $5,000 and a spot at the resettlement site, he added, 20 families had agreed to take the cash while two had agreed to take the house and 63 had refused the offer altogether. And of the families offered $3,000, only 10 had ac­cepted, he said.

“In total, 87 families do not agree with the policy of the Phnom Penh municipality,” he said.
City Hall spokesman Long Di­manche declined to comment.

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