August 3 – 6, 2015, 2015: The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), in collaboration with Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), organized a three-day exposure visit for Land and Housing Rights Network (LAHRiN) steering committee and development partners to Union Development Group (UDG) Co. Ltd, situated in Botom Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, in Koh Kong province.
The key objectives of the trip were to learn and gain more understanding on the current status of ongoing land conflicts and living conditions of communities affected by UDG development project and to seek for intervention from the local authorities. The steering committees that joined the trip included NGOF, CHRAC, Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), ADHOC, LICADHO, Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), Cambodia Defenders Project (CDP), Diakonia, Oxfam, Vigilance, Human Rights Organization for Transparency and Peace (HROTP), and Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Associations (KKKHRDA).
During the trip, the team managed to meet with various affected communities from both old location and relocation site, local and sub-national authorities, and other relevant officials to discuss about the conflict of the development projects, as well as alternative but best solutions.
“It is the very first time ever, since the starting of this UDG project that all the LAHRiN Steering Committees have the chance to join together for a visit to absorb more about this project, even though we used to have different kinds of trips such as media and investigation trips,” said Leng Sarorn, Resettlement and Housing Rights Project Coordinator of NGOF. “And I’m very positive about this trip, since each NGO representative is having the opportunity to talk, interview, listen and learn from the actual situation from all the stakeholders. This will help us in producing better discussion and advocacy strategies for our next plans.”
Different results were made during this trip:
- The team manages to know better about the current issues faced by the affected communities in the old location, counting threat, forced eviction, loss of properties such as houses and land and their livelihood as well. They learned also that the affected people, residing in the old location, are not satisfied with and do not agree to accept the compensation from the company and, thus, they continue to fight against and request the company and the Royal Government of Cambodia to implement the leopard skin policy
- The people in the new location also encountered difficulties such as lack of social services, loss of livelihood and have great concerns over land tenure
- The competent authorities are highly committed to addressing the community’s concerns over the land titles and improvement of resettlement site as well as convey the community’s proposal for on-site-upgrading in the old location to inter-ministerial committee for resolution.