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Advocate in Washington To Push for Housing Rights

Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force.
Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force.

The director of a housing advocacy group is visiting Washington, in a bid to get more international support to stop land grabs and forced evictions in Cambodia.

Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force, told VOA Khmer he wants the international community to push the government to work harder at solving these issues.

He said he had meetings at the World Bank, which censured its own Phnom Penh office last year for failing to fully implement a land title program that might have prevented the forced evictions of the Boeung Kak lake project in Phnom Penh.

The World Bank subsequently froze its funding to Cambodia, pending more results in curbing land grabs.

Prime Minister Hun Sen then ordered more than 12 hectares of the 133-hectare Boeung Kak development be granted to former residents. But even that initiative became mired in allegations of graft and left some residents angry.

The Boeung Kak development is one of many that the country is now facing, as increased urban and rural developments have pushed many impoverished Cambodians from their land and homes.

Sia Phearum said his group and others will meet with key donors and congressional representatives to describe the problems.

“The international community should intervene or negotiate with the government to fulfill the task of giving solutions to people victimized by forced evictions,” Sia Phearum said. This would improve Cambodia’s reputation internationally, he said.