More than 170 families living along the southern and western perimeter of Phnom Penh International Airport must uproot by Dec 8 or have their homes bulldozed without compensation, officials and villagers said Sunday.
A previous order issued Aug 12 by former Dangkao Deputy District Governor May Mon similarly gave the residents one month to move, but complaints filed by the villagers delayed the mass eviction by a couple of months.
Both orders cite airport security as a primary reason for the eviction.
“They are breaking the law because they have been living on land belonging to the state,” said Dangkao District Governor Krouch Phan, who issued the Nov 8 order.
“No country in the world has residential houses along the fence of an airport, except Cambodia,” he added.
Choam Chao commune chief Soth Sath said that, although many of the villagers have lived there since the 1980s, their court complaints could only delay the eviction for a limited time.
Residential construction is illegal around the airport and the more than 170 families lack legal land titles, he said.
Villagers will continue appealing to higher authorities after the Water Festival, including the Municipality, the Municipal Court, the Ministry of Interior and the Council of Ministers, said Chan Sam An, 57, who has lived in the area since 1989.
Krouch Phan alleged that the current residents purchased their homes from a group of soldiers who originally grabbed the land around the airport perimeter and protected their illegal construction with guns.
Resident Ly Lim, 47, acknowledged that some of the residents were not the original settlers, but said they had purchased their homes more than a decade ago.
He added that residents had never caused any security problems for the airport and that the eviction was an attempt by local authorities to grab villagers’ land.
“We are not satisfied with the order made by district officials,” Ly Lim said. “If it is a municipal plan, then the Municipality must buy our land. Eviction is just for illegal squatters, but we have legal construction with acknowledgment from commune officials.”