Years After Eviction, Former Sambok Chap Residents Get Homes

More than a decade after being forcibly evicted from their Phnom Penh city center homes in an area known as the “Bird’s Nest” and left to live on the edge of a sewage canal, more than 40 families from the Sambok Chap community have moved into new homes.

In June 2006, armed police and military police evicted more than 1,000 families from the community in Chamkar Mon district’s Tonle Bassac commune, sending them to live on 1.5 hectares of swampy land about 20 km away.

Just over half received new plots at Andong village in Prek Pnov district. The rest had to settle on the side of the smelly canal.

On Monday, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said that after an assessment of families living on the canal and private lands, 46 were determined to be former residents of Sambok Chap village and given new homes.

City Hall officials on Sunday handed over the houses at a location not far from the sewage canal, he said.

The new houses were a joint venture between City Hall and an NGO, Mr. Measpheakdey said. The NGO was previously identified as Christian organization People for Care and Learning.

“They cooperated with us and managed to build houses of 4-by-5 meters,” he said.

The families selected were able to prove that they once lived at Sambok Chap and had moved to the village in Kok Roka commune after the evictions.

Some applicants were rejected for being “opportunists” who did not have any proof of living near the canal or even in the area, Mr. Measpheakdey said.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager at rights group Licadho, welcomed the solution, but asked why it had taken so long for City Hall to help the families living in unhygienic conditions.

“We congratulate [City Hall] for giving land or a house for former residents of Sambok Chap who were evicted to Andong Village,” Mr. Sam Ath said.

“However, since 2006 until now, it has been many years and some people just recently received land or a house. Talking about resolution, it has taken so long.”

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