Angkor Evictees Continue to Look for New Land

Some families forced to demolish their homes and businesses from protected land in Angkor Archaeological Park are seeking new spots to live while others continue to prepare to leave
Tourists visit Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
Tourists visit Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

Communities who have been evicted from land within the protected Angkor park are looking for new places to relocate to while others are still preparing to leave.

Villager Chan Ly who has been forced to demolish her small stall within the area. She said she has already carried out the order from authorities as it was a small business and she has not had to relocate as many others have as she has a land document.

“For those who don’t have land to live on, they have already relocated to new villages. For me, I just had to demolish my small stall in the Angkor area,” Ly said.

She added she still sees some families preparing to leave, while others have already sourced new land to live on.

Dy Phana has relocated to Run Ta Ek Natural Village and said he got the land to live on by lucky draw but he has not started to build a new house yet. He is waiting for authorities to finalize the agreements and he will build a new house. However, he raised concerns about his business.

“I had to stay with my relatives for a few days, but I am waiting for the authorities to prepare the land. I know I am wrong to leave but you know we don’t have any choice,” he said.

“Before, we had a small business but now we don’t and I am a little bit concerned about that. I hope that it is fine and later we can live properly.”

Another villager, Chay Nim, said she is looking for a new place to live. She hopes she will be able to find a permanent home that does not have to be torn down again.

“I hope the new place will give my family a new life and we can live on our own land without being frightened and not have to demolish it again,” Nim said.

Human rights activist in Siem Reap province, Sous Narin, said there are many people who have been relocated. He added there has been no conflict between villagers and authorities.

“I see there are many villagers who have gone to Run Ta Ek Natural Village to look up their land. There is no conflict between villagers and authorities, we see villagers haven’t complained about anything yet and I meet them directly,” he said.

A total of 116 families participated in a lucky draw to live in Run Ta Ek Natural Village. On August 27, a total of 936 families had relocated there. The next day, a 95-hectare plot of land in the Run Ta Ek Development Area was allocated to people who voluntarily demolished illegal structures to relocate to.

It was implemented by a working group of the Ministry of Environment and APSARA Authority, according to the Facebook page of Chea Sophara, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

On 17 August, the Ministry started its campaign to demolish the thousands of illegal constructions located within Angkor Archaeological Park.