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54 Families Rejected in Lake Resettlement Deal

A man walks among the rubble of houses almost removed on the edge of Boeung Kak, Phnom Penh's largest lake.

City officials have rejected the applications of 54 families to be resettled on a land development site at Boeung Kak lake.

Phnom Penh authorities are in the process of assessing land titles for hundreds of families, who have been promised resettlement on 12 hectares of the 133-hectare site.

Nearly 800 families sought to be resettled, following years of protests by residents who refused buy-out or off-site resettlement offers, officials said.

Among those who will not get land is Heng Mom, 41, who said her house does not fall within the designated land area offered by the city.

“Now it seems we’ve lost everything and we are in shock,” she told VOA Khmer. “This is a violation of not only my rights, but for the other people who will not get justice.”

The resettlement plan came at the order of Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month, following threats from the World Bank that it would freeze funding to Cambodia if the dispute between villagers and the city-backed development company was not resolved.

Heng Mom said her rejection was against the spirit of that order.

“There are some bad officials who want to swindle us and swallow the people’s land,” she said.

Tep Vanny, a representative of lake residents, said that so far 54 families have been denied plots of land. The community has seven villages and 794 families. She said the villagers will struggle to make sure that all families have homes as part of the deal.

In Saphorn, deputy chief of Srah Chak commune, said that the authorities are working on solutions for the families who are not being provided a land title.

The World Bank said in a statement it continued to encourage negotiation over the land.