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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2006, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Evictions in Cambodia criticised
By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Cambodian boy in Phnom Penh
Many in Phnom Penh live in basic homes with poor facilities
Human rights groups in Cambodia have criticised the increasing number of evictions from slum communities in the capital, Phnom Penh.

The authorities have moved thousands of families from city centre land over recent weeks.

Rights workers say conditions at the relocation sites are poor.

But the municipal government says many of the slum dwellers are squatters and that development and modernisation make the moves necessary.

Hard choice

Phnom Penh has seen evictions before - but on nothing like this scale.

Since May, the authorities have cleared several well-established slum communities.

More than 3,000 families have had to leave their homes - and thousands more are set to follow.

map

On Wednesday, police moved into one slum community during the night and dismantled dozens of dwellings.

The action has continued into the weekend.

Most of the displaced residents have been offered plots of land on relocation sites up to 30km (19 miles) away from their former homes.

But transport costs mean that travelling to work in the city is unviable for most.

That leaves residents with a choice between unemployment or squatting at a new location in Phnom Penh.

Rights workers say access to running water, sewage and electricity at the relocation sites is limited or non-existent.

And the downpours of the rainy season mean the situation is getting worse.

The municipal authorities say that many of the slum-dwellers have no legal right to occupy the land.

One official said the evictions would allow the "beautification" of the city.

Property developers plan to build luxury apartments and shopping centres on the sites of the slums.


SEE ALSO
Cambodia 'suffering land crisis'
02 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Cambodia is not 'hell', says PM
18 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Lights out in Phnom Penh
22 Feb 06 |  Business

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