Stop evictions: Banteay Sleuk community should not be evicted during the pandemic of COVID 19

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Municipality of Phnom Penh, in cooperation with local authorities, has relocated Banteay Sleuk community, located in Village 4, Sangkat Tumnup Teuk, Khan Boeung Keng Kang, Phnom Penh (behind Sovanna Shopping Mall). 87 households were moved to a  relocation site  in the 7NG development area, about 30 kilometres away from their old homes. This eviction and relocation was implemented on the morning of Saturday July 11, 2020.

Before the eviction and relocation, the administration of Mulnicipality of Phnom Penh, in cooperation with Boeung Keng Kang District, invited all 87 families for a meeting on the morning of July 8, 2020, for allocating relocation plots of land. The families recieved a plot of land with a width of 4 meters and a length of 15 meters (4m x 15m). The authorities offered only three days for people to prepare to move from their old location, which was not discussed during the meeting on July 8.

In response to the authorities’ action, the community has asked all relevant authorities to delay the demolition of their houses on the grounds that this is a time when almost all residents are facing many problems, especially loss of revenue due to the problem of the Covid-19 epidemic and now is the onset of the raining season. One community member said,

“If we relocate now, there will not be enough money to build a new house at the new location, because we only received compensation for land and $100 from Municipality of Phnom Penh.”

According to some of the communities that STT has interviewed, the fact that community residents are not protesting directly against their eviction and relocation is not evidence that they agree to be relocated or that their human rights are being respected.

Therefore, in relation to the process of relocating this poor community and as a civil society organization working directly with the urban poor, STT would like to request the Phnom Penh Municipality and all authorities respect the rights of the people to adequate housing. The United Nations “Guidelines on Evictions and Resettlement” should be implemented effectively and ensure that it is a participatory solution that involves the community. In addition, we ask the authorities resolve these issues by providing fair and equitable compensation to the remaining families and continue to support the families who have been relocated by providing public services such as water, electricity, roads, as well as employment opportunities or additional compensation if they are not able to find work.

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