Borei Keila, the green buildings

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Witnessed: 3535 times

Regions: Cambodia

Issues: HIV-AIDS, Internally displaced persons

Borei Keila:
About 1,800 families live in and around the former athletic-turned-police barracks of Borei Keila, near Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. Residents settled the 14.6-hectare training camp in the late 80’s, living in its buildings and constructing homes throughout the grounds.
In 2003, Prime Minister Hun Sen authorized a social land concession: a “land sharing” arrangement allowing a private company, Phanimex, to develop 2.6ha for its own commercial purposes in exchange for providing on-site housing to residents, and returning the remaining 10ha to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
Municipal authorities created a list of 1,776 families eligible for apartments. This list included both homeowners as well as renters who had lived at Borei Keila since 2000. Construction of the apartments began in September 2004.
Authorities sought to present Borei Keila as a model inner-city development project that protected the housing rights of the poor; the reality was very different. Corruption among village leaders and officials in the allocation of apartments tarnished the success of this model project.
By March 2007, the first three buildings were completed; hundreds of families were given housing in two of the new buildings. To make way for the next seven buildings, authorities quickly demolished homes, evicting families who had not been given apartments in the three buildings already constructed. According to local NGOs, approximately 180 families were left homeless. Of that group, about 45 families – most HIV affected were relocated into a temporary shelter know as the Green Buildings.
“[The move from Borei Keila to the Green Buildings] was meant to be for a short time–three months. But it has been two years already,” says one green shed resident.
Currently, about 32 HIV-affected families living in the Green Buildings are slated for another eviction. The Municipality intends to relocate them to Toul Sambo, located 20 kilometers outside Phnom Penh.
“It is like sending us to die,” says another resident, explaining that Toul Sambo is located far from schools, hospitals and job prospects. “It will cost us 15,000 riel just to go get medicine.” Future prospects look bleak for these families, which according to local NGOs, live on a daily income of 5,600 riels (~ USD 1.40).

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