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Aid Money Urged for Development

The $1 billion in foreign aid promised to Cambodia earlier this month should go into the hands of the people and their communities, addressing government policies, a community leader said Monday.

“Poverty reduction is not what the government’s policy is,” said Sok Heng, a minority representative from Oddar Meanchey province, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Joined by Ruos Han, a Kuoy minority from Kratie province, Sok Heng urged the government to undertake better studies of land and forest concessions before handing them over to private businesses.

Land theft and disputes have emerged as a continuous problem in Cambodia in recent years, with minority groups especially hard hit, and both men urged the government Monday to use the foreign aid to develop communities to help alleviate it.

“Where more development occurs, that’s where people are facing difficulties,” Sok Heng said.

“Without the preservation of our natural resources, our minority community cannot survive,” Ruos Han said. Without such resources, minorities have a very difficult time surviving, because they don’t engage in typical businesses, he said.

After nearly 15 years of development, Cambodia remains heavily reliant on foreign aid for its operations, and donor countries and agencies were especially forthcoming with funding this year.

Both men said Tuesday that money does not reach its targets and is often hard to track. Money for infrastructure, schools, clinics, seed, canals and other agriculture was needed, they said.