Many renters in Phnom Penh’s rundown Borei Keila community, who had been told Thursday was their deadline to move out, were relieved when evening came and there was no bulldozer in sight, local rights group Licadho said.
Several residents of the community in Prampi Makara district wept Thursday morning for fear they were about to be kicked out of their homes.
Pao Kim Moy, 57, said she owns her house, but has been slow to acquire the necessary paperwork and has been ordered off the property by district authorities.
“I will stay inside my house until they kill me,” she cried.
Prampi Makara district governor Srun Sroun said the municipality has come up with an alternative for a large number of the renting families who fear eviction.
He said that there are only a few families whose situations remain unclear, adding that the municipality has a policy of finding solutions for them.
Many of Borei Keila’s hundreds of renting families have been unsure since the development of their community began early this month whether they would receive free housing like most of their home-owning neighbors. Dozens of renting families in the community suffer from HIV-AIDS.
Licadho Director Naly Pilorge said last week that under the original 2003 agreement between the municipality, residents and the private firm Phanimex, some Borei Keila renters should be considered for the free apartments.
Renters who have been constant residents at the community since 2000 should be eligible for alternative housing, she said. Most homeowners at Borei Keila have been promised apartments by the municipality.
Khan Seila, a 38-year-old construction worker, said he has been renting in Borei Keila since 1998 and is still without a place to go.
“I appeal to Samdech [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to please help my family because we are very poor and now we have no house to live in,” he said.
Jason Barber, a Licadho official monitoring the case, said authorities are planning to relocate today some 54 renting families to three small plots of land that are being used by people to deposit their trash.
Many of these families have small children and the health risks associated with living on a pile of garbage are numerous, he said.
He added that 28 families suffering from HIV-AIDS from the same area have been handed a slightly better solution.
“They have been given temporary shelter in a corrugated iron shed,” he said.
Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema pledged Wednesday that he would soon assess the situation of the renters and asked for people’s patience in the meantime.
“[Municipal Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun] has a list,” of renters who will get houses, he said. Mann Chhoeun could not be reached for comment.
(Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda.)