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Complaints Against Rubber Company To Be Assessed, World Bank Office Says

Phouk Hong, a Kuy ethnic minority who led a three-member team, told VOA Khmer in an TV interview that concession companies have destroyed the forest and do more harm to local culture than good, file photo.

The World Bank’s ombudsman office says it will assess a complaint from indigenous groups in Ratanakkiri province that a bank-supported company has damaged the forest and surrounding communities.

The bank’s office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, or CAO, issued a letter to the complainants Feb. 24, saying it has determined the complaints eligible for assessment and will now work with them to clarify issues raised and help them determine how to proceed.

Seventeen different groups joined in the complaint, claiming the Hoang Anh Gia Lai rubber company, which receives financing from the bank’s International Finance Corporation, had destroyed forestry lands affecting as many as 2,000 families.

Eang Vuthy, executive director for Equitable Cambodia, an organization helping the indigenous groups with the process, said the CAO will mediate the issues with concerned communities, the company and authorities.

Megan MacInnes, a campaigner for the environmental watchdog Global Witness, urged the company to cooperate with the process. Hoang Anh Gia Lai has “devastated” the livelihoods of the complainants, she said. “The CAO has the power to give them the chance to get justice.”