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|20-06-2009, 07:45 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Forcible Evictions of HIV-positive Families in Cambodia
Forcible Evictions of HIV-positive Families in Cambodia
June 19, 2009
Yesterday morning, the Cambodian government forcibly evicted about 20 families living with HIV/AIDS from their homes in Borei Keila and resettled them at Tuol Sambo, a resettlement site just outside the capital, Phnom Penh.
The site lacks clean water and electricity and has limited access to medical services.
Evicted families were compensated with inadequate housing at the site and 50 kilograms of rice, soy sauce, fish sauce, water jars and US$250, but they were warned that anyone who did not comply with the move would not receive compensation.
A human rights worker present during the transition described the families as despondent and noted that those who are ill were exhausted by the move.
When Amnesty International visited the site – in a semi-rural area where houses are built from green metal sheets – villagers in the vicinity saw it as a place for HIV/AIDS victims.
The evicted families expressed fears that being forced to live in this separate, distinct location will bring more discrimination and stigmatization than they already are forced to deal with because of their status as HIV-positive.
Forced evictions are a tactic Cambodia has employed more and more often, and this is not the first time the Cambodian government has taken this sort of action against people living with HIV-AIDS.
In March 2007, the Municipality of Phnom Penh resettled an additional 32 families living with HIV/ AIDS against their will in temporary green, corrugated-metal shelters in appalling conditions to make way for the construction of a number of new houses.
The families believe that the authorities are discriminating against them because of their HIV status.
"Keeping quiet while monks and other peaceful protesters are murdered and jailed is not evidence of constructive engagement." - Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch.
"I think...I think it's in my basement. Let me go upstairs and check" - M.C. Escher
|25-03-2010, 03:08 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Tuol Sambo improves: groups
Cameron Wells and Phak Seangly
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Photo by: Heng ChivoanPrum Pel, 67, and his wife, 36-year-old Vin Thy, sit in their home at the Tuol Sambo relocation site in Dangkor district on Tuesday. Groups providing aid to the site, which houses roughly 40 HIV-affected families who were evicted from central Phnom Penh last summer, say conditions there have improved since it was first settled, though residents such as Vin Thy say they have not yet received sufficient vocational training.
We find that family conditions are better... and there is more dignity and hope.GROUPS providing aid to a notorious Dangkor district relocation site for HIV-affected families say residents’ short-term food needs have been met, and that they are making progress in securing long-term employment and housing, painting a far more positive picture of conditions at the Tuol Sambo neighbourhood than they did a few months ago.
More than 60 HIV-positive individuals from about 40 families were evicted from the Borei Keila community in central Phnom Penh to the site on the outskirts of the capital last June and July.
In August, four HIV/AIDS NGOs published a field report warning that the lack of food at the site was “potentially life-threatening”, and concerns about the food situation were renewed in a UNAIDS site visit report produced last November, which stated that access to “more than the minimum food package (rice, salt, oil)” was “crucial” given that most families did not have a secure income.
At that point, the families were receiving food packages from the World Food Programme, but that organisation’s commitment expired at the end of January.
Since then, however, the local NGO Caritas Cambodia has begun providing food packages, which are distributed by the Women’s Organisation for Modern Economy and Nursing (WOMEN).
Kim Rattana, executive director of Caritas, said the families are receiving 50 kilogrammes per month of rice along with “other nutritional foods like soy sauce, fish sauce, dry fish, soya milk and sausages”.
In general, he said, conditions at the site have improved since it was first settled.
Photo by: Heng ChivoanVillagers relocated to Tuol Sambo, in the city’s Dangkor district, wash clothes Tuesday in front of new houses being erected on the site.
We find that family conditions are better... and there is more dignity and hope.“We find that family conditions are better,” he said.
“They are feeling happy, and there is more dignity and hope.”
This assessment was echoed by UNAIDS Country Director Tony Lisle, who said improvements had also been made to the families’ housing and employment situations.
“There is better sanitation, housing and skills training,” he said. “The community seems much happier.”
Some improvements, however, have yet to be implemented. The families are still living in the green sheds that greeted them when they arrived at the site, although the construction of new homes is set to be completed in May.
And though many of the families have participated in a range of vocational training programmes, not all residents said these had sufficiently bolstered their incomes.
Vin Thy, 36, said she had preferred living in Borei Keila, where she could earn more money as a dishwasher and as a scavenger.
A vocational training programme run by the NGO Cambodia Knits has taught her to make finger puppets, but she complained that these only sell for 2,000 riels (about US$0.50) apiece. Given that her husband, 67-year-old Prom Pel, is unable to find a job as a construction worker, the family barely earns enough money, even with the food packages provided by Caritas, which are expected to end in August.
Yim Sam Art, 36, said he was happy at the new site, though he, too, said he was earning less. “Before I worked as a pork deliverer, and I could earn $5 for half a day of work,” he said. “[Now] I work 20 days a month and earn around 15,000 riels per day.”
Kim Rattana, however, said employment prospects for the families were improving, and that nearly all families had at least one member earning $50 per month.
“They work as moto drivers, construction workers and other work,” he said. He added that Caritas plans to remain involved with the site for another three years after it ceases to provide food packages.
|29-04-2010, 05:18 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Evictees living in squalor again
MAY TITTHARA AND WILL BAXTER
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Borei Keila resident Prak Sophea, 49, sits in a wall-less, ground-floor dwelling where she has lived since being evicted from an apartment. She is waiting to be assigned a home by the government.
Photo by: Will Baxter
SUN-BAKED rubbish and raw sewage amalgamate in the lane that runs past Prak Sophea’s wall-less dwelling, threatening to spill into the space she has been forced to occupy with another family since being evicted on Sunday from temporary housing in Prampi Makara district.
“I cannot bear the bad sanitation, especially when it is raining,” she said. She explained that poor drainage results in flooding that sends sewage into her new home.
The 49-year-old widow, who learned in 1998 that she was HIV-positive, had been occupying a ground-floor room in a dilapidated building in the district’s Borei Keila community since June 2009, waiting for City Hall and a private development company to give her permanent housing. The company, Phanimex, has been tasked with providing on-site relocation units for 11 HIV-affected families, including Prak Sophea’s, who were evicted from prime real estate in front of the Ministry of Tourism building last year to make way for a public garden.
Unlike the 41 families who were trucked out to Tuol Sambo village in Dangkor district in June and July 2009, these 11 families were allowed to stay in Borei Keila because they produced documents proving they had been renting their homes since 2000 or before.
On Sunday, however, Prak Sophea was informed by her landlord that she would need to vacate the premises because Som Sovann, the governor of Prampi Makara district, had issued an order declaring that all property-owners had to personally occupy their homes rather than rent them out in order to be eligible to receive apartments in one of the new Phanimex-built condominiums, she said.
As Prak Sophea waited to be assigned permanent housing, the Ministry of Tourism gave her US$30 per month to cover rent for three months, after which district officials stepped in with a $20-per-month stipend that she received until last December. Though no financial assistance has been forthcoming since then, she had been able to make enough money selling snacks outside a local school to afford the ground-floor unit.
Five of the 11 families who were evicted last summer have already received permanent housing. The other six, however, have been left in limbo as they wait to be assigned rooms.
Prak Sophea, whose husband died of AIDS in 2000, is squatting in the shell of a gutted apartment, where she lives without running water, electricity or a toilet. Leaking drains and human waste drip down from the apartments above, splashing off a small lean-to she has set up to deflect
She said that since being kicked out of her temporary housing, she has been constantly worried for her safety, health and well-being.
“I cannot go to do my business because I am afraid someone will steal my property while I am away, and I am worried about my health because of the lack of sanitation,” she said. She added that she had also found it difficult to sleep.
“The authorities always tell us to ‘please wait’, but they change their mind all the time ... before, they promised to give us apartments on the fourth floor, then the fifth floor and then the sixth floor,” she said, referring to the block of buildings constructed by Phanimex. “We don’t know which promise is real or how long we will have to wait.”
Som Sovann said this week that five of the 11 families had received permanent housing because they had presented “complete” documents, unlike Prak Sophea and the others.
“The other six families did not receive an apartment because they have a complicated problem and do not have enough documents yet.... When they have enough documents we will give an apartment to them,” he said. He declined to specify which documents the six families lack.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said he would continue to help the remaining families and ensure that they receive apartments, though he added that they would need to wait.
“We will not abandon them, we have sent a request to [Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema] already ... but we need time,” he added.
Phanimex officials could not be reached for comment this week.
Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said City Hall’s response to the problem had been insufficient, and urged officials to place any families who can prove they are eligible for housing in the community on a fast-track list for new apartments.
“The authorities should be giving first priority to these villagers ... because their houses have already been torn down and they do not have the money to rent a room any longer,” he said.
Manfred Hornung, a legal adviser for Licadho, said the families had been promised permanent housing by September 2009, and called on officials to give them a written notice specifying the apartments to which they would be assigned.
“The major problem for the families is they have received contradicting information from the authorities since last June,” he said, and warned that any further delay could “deteriorate their condition”.
Licadho consultant Mathieu Pellerin also said the process of finding housing for the families should be expedited.
“It is long overdue that the municipality do the right thing with these families who have been promised new apartments for months now,” he said.
|21-07-2010, 06:37 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
HIV/AIDS evictees get new homes
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WILL BAXTER
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
A resident of the Tuol Sambo relocation site in Dangkor district reaches into a box to draw a slip of paper assigning her a new home. A group of 44 families at the site participated in the drawing yesterday.
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A GROUP of 44 HIV/AIDS-affected families that were evicted from their homes in Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community in June 2009 and forced to live in green metal sheds in Dangkor district received replacement housing yesterday.
Rights groups had long bemoaned conditions at the Tuol Sambo relocation site, which is about 20 kilometres from the capital, complaining in particular about poor infrastructure and the “oppressively hot” 3.5-by-4.5-metre green metal sheds the families were forced to occupy.
Suon Saren, 30, said yesterday that she was pleased to move to one of the new 4-by-7-metre concrete homes provided by the NGO Caritas Cambodia.
“When I first arrived at Tuol Sambo and was forced to live in that green metal house I could not sleep at night, and it affected my heath, but now that I have received a new house I think I will get better,” she said.
“The high temperatures in the metal sheds used to damage our medicine, but with the new houses we hope this won’t be a problem,” she added.
Mann Chhoeun, former deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said yesterday that despite the wave of criticism triggered by the eviction, the government remained committed to helping affected families establish and support themselves.
“We will manage this village and provide the people with a vocational centre, which will in turn provide them with jobs sewing clothing, producing soap and growing flowers,” he said. “And we will construct a small market where they can run a business, and also allow them to sell their products at the night market near Phsar Chas.”
Kim Ratana, director of Caritas Cambodia, said his group would continue to support livelihood development at the site. “We will help them operate small businesses such as bottling water, producing soap and making other products by hand so they can enhance their standard of living and develop Tuol Sambo into a small industry area,” he said.
Suy Sophan, director of Phanimex, the private company developing the Borei Keila site, said the families were lucky to receive the new homes.
“Even though their parents could not provide them with a house the government has provided them with land and a house,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manfred Hornung, a legal adviser for the rights group Licadho, said six other HIV/AIDS-affected families that were promised replacement housing in Borei Keila by Phanimex after being evicted from their homes there were still “living in very bad conditions”.
“The granting of these apartments has actually been postponed since June 2009,” he said, and called any further delays a “direct threat to their livelihoods and future in general”.
good as this may sound they should NEVER have been evicted in the first place .
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