Seventeen separate minority groups in northeastern Cambodia on Monday filed a joint complaint to the World Bank, alleging land grabs and environmental destruction by a Vietnamese company in the area supported by the bank’s International Finance Corporation.
The IFC has invested in the company, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, which the groups say is responsible for damaging their culture, livelihoods, lands, forests and other natural resources.
“Today’s move by Cambodian communities increases the pressure for the IFC to be accountable for investments which stand in stark contrast to its public commitments on ethics and sustainability, as well as the World Bank’s core mandate to end global poverty,” said Megan MacInnes, a campaigner for Global Witness, which has researched the company in both Cambodia and Laos.
“The Bank must hold its hands up and do everything in its power to ensure that these communities get justice,” she said.
The 17 groups are being supported by a host of international and local NGOs, such as Inclusive Development International, Equitable Cambodia, the Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association, Indigenous Rights Active Members, and the Highlanders Association.
Eang Vuthy, executive director of Equitable Cambodia, said these NGOs are pushing for a solution. They and the indigenous groups met with the IFC in Phnom Penh last week to discuss deforestation of the communities, he said.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai has begun clearing some 47,000 hectares of land in Ratanakkiri province, under a land concession from the government that was given in 2010. Some 2,000 families will be affected by the clearing, representatives said.