Right officials say Relocation Site Inadequate

The 130 families relocated from a land concession in Kompong Speu owned by CPP Senator and agribusiness operator Ly Yong Phat face a lack of clean water and electricity, and their remote new home has prevented at least 40 children from attending school, a human rights worker said yesterday.

In April the families moved from the 10,000-hectare sugar plantation in Thpong district’s Omlaing commune to a relocation site nine km away from their former homes, said Ouch Leng, an investigator for rights group Adhoc.

Mr Leng said the site’s infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of its residents, and its main road is unpaved and frequently floods, making travel and transport difficult.

“The relocation site is so isolated,” he said. “There is no clean water supply or pond, no electricity. It’s especially very far from schooling.”

The relocated families do not include the thousands of families who continue to oppose the concession.

Chheang Kim Sun, a representative for Mr Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company, confirmed that the 130 families have moved into the relocation site, and acknowledged the company needs to build more infrastructure.

“The company will build infrastructure and a school,” she said. “So far we cleared and divided the land for those families who are not land protestors.”

Chhuon Chhon, a teacher in Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune, said that since April he has seen his pupils decrease from 140 to 101 as Omlaing commune-based students have stopped attending class.

“Those who quit school are the children of impoverished families whose parents have been forced to accept land at the relocation site,” he said.

Mr Ouch Leng said that the poor conditions at relocation sites are common in land disputes, causing even more difficulties for families who have already been forced to leave their homes.

Such complaints have also been made about relocation sites for former residents of the Dey Krahorm community in Phnom Penh, who were evicted in January 2009.

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