City authorities moved hundreds of squatter families Monday from the site of the Nov 26 Bassac district fire to two relocation areas outside the city, using flatbed trucks to load passengers near the Bassac Theater late into the night.
Several squatters said they wanted to move because they have no house, food or money. The move, which started at 2 pm, appeared mostly peaceful.
“Children don’t have homes. They can’t sleep,” said 25-year-old Mom Sopheap, a squatter who lived in the area for 10 years.
Peter Swan of the UN Center for Human Settlements said he was told by Mann Chhoeun, chief of cabinet to Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, that the squatters were eager to move so they could be at the relocation sites in time to receive aid from the Cambodian Red Cross, which planned to distribute supplies this morning.
Some 400 families were being relocated to land 17 km away, near Prey Sar prison. An aid worker who saw the site said it may be prone to flooding.
Another 186 families were being moved to the Anlong Kngan relocation site, a 154-hectare former government-owned agricultural research area about 30 km north of Phnom Penh.
Chea Sophara said Monday night he wanted the squatters to wait another two or three weeks, enough time for the municipality to prepare infrastructure at the new sites. The water supply is not yet 100 percent safe, he said.
“But they said no. They said they cannot wait for a long time because they do not have food or land. They are scared,” Chea Sophara said.
The Bassac district fire displaced 2,200 families. A second fire Nov 28 in Meanchey district displaced 910 families Nov 28.