For Immediate Release
AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302
Amnesty International Condemns Cambodian Government's Eviction of 20 Families Living with HIV/AIDS
Families Relocated to "AIDS Village" with No Electricity, Clean Water or Sanitation, Reports Human Rights Organization
WASHINGTON - Amnesty International has
condemned the Phnom Penh authorities for evicting 20 families living with
HIV/AIDS from their homes in Borei Keila this morning. They have
been moved outside of the city to a resettlement site, Tuol Sambo, where
there is no clean water or electricity and limited access to medical services.
“Tuol Sambo is grossly inadequate and the
authorities are well aware of this,” said Brittis Edman, Amnesty International’s
Cambodia researcher. “It is often referred to as ‘the AIDS village’
and the inhabitants live with no access to clean water, electricity or
“The site’s long distance from the city
hampers access to health services and jobs, adding to the risks. The families
have urgent humanitarian needs, including clean water, larger living space,
access to medical services and food supplies. There is a real risk that
the health of the evicted families will deteriorate there.”
Tuol Sambo is in a semi-rural area where
the housing is built from green metal sheets. When Amnesty International
visited the site in April 2009, it was perceived by villagers in the vicinity
as a center for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The affected families have expressed fears
that they will face further discrimination and stigmatization because of
their HIV status if forced to live in this separate, distinct enclave.
Prejudice against these families may be exacerbated by their poverty and
lack of job opportunities.
When evicted, the families were compensated
with inadequate re-housing in Tuol Sambo and 50 kilograms of rice, soy
sauce, fish sauce, water jars and 250 U.S. dollars from the Municipality
of Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Tourism. Last Friday, they were
coerced into the move and told that anyone who disagreed would not receive
“It's unacceptable that the authorities
didn’t explore other alternatives before deciding to evict these 20 vulnerable
families,” said Edman. “Tuol Sambo shouldn’t have been an option.”
Borei Keila is a large poor urban community
which the government designated as a social land concession for residential
development in 2003. The Borei Keila concession was intended to be
a land-sharing arrangement between a private developer, the Ministry of
Education, Youth and Sport and residents. The agreement gave the developer
2.6 hectares of land for commercial development, in exchange for constructing
new housing for the original residents on two hectares of the land. The
remainder, consisting of 10 hectares, was to be returned to the Ministry
of Education, Youth and Sport.
In March 2007, the Municipality of Phnom
Penh resettled the families who lived in Borei
Keila against their will and reportedly with
force, in temporary shelters built mostly out of corrugated metal sheets.
The authorities told them that they would stay there for a few months only,
to pave way for the construction of a number of residential multi-storey
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.