Families facing eviction from the Angkor Protected Area in Siem Reap province will be relocated to 1,012 hectares of land that have been placed under Apsara Authority control, according to a subdecree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen last month.
Apsara Authority will select families from the 401-square-km protected area who will move to the new site, named the Runta Ke Development zone, in Banteay Srei and Prasat Bakong districts, the authority’s Deputy Director Soeung Kong said Tuesday.
“We don’t know when we will begin to move people, but it is important to have the land first,” he said. He did not know how many people would be moved or how much land they would receive.
Those to be relocated under the Oct 19 subdecree, include squatters whom Hun Sen ordered the Apsara Authority to evict from the Angkor Wat compound in July, Soeung Kong said.
Now, in addition to giving the families land, Apsara Authority will construct a market, hospital, school and drainage system for people inside the new development zone, he said.
Residents within the Angkor Wat protected area have long been considered a threat to the temples, Soeung Kong said.
“People have encroached on the forest, and dug wells for water, and their actions can damage the temples,” he said.
At the last meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of Angkor, which took place in Siem Reap in February, experts said the park’s growing population would prove to be a major challenge for the protection of the temples.
When the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization removed Angkor Wat from the “in danger” portion of its World Heritage list in July, Unesco Country Representative Etienne Clement noted that illegal encroachment within the park continued to threaten the temples.
(Additional reporting by Solana Pyne)