Thousands of Vietnamese people in the floating villages on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap River are being forced to relocate in a major gentrification plan, Cambodian media reported.
The five-year plan, which aims to improve Kompong Chhnang province’s image and bolster its tiny tourism sector, affects 1,000 families, mostly Vietnamese.
Authorities last week began informing residents of the floating villages of their impending relocation, Cambodia Daily quoted deputy provincial governor Sun Sovannarith, who is in charge of the eviction, as saying.
The families will move to a new site 3 km up the river, he said.
The provincial governor has announced that between October 15 and 25, the Khmer, Cham and Vietnamese people living in a total of 1,486 houses will move, he said, adding that about 90 percent have agreed to move.
Sovannarith said that the 1,486 floating houses could remain in their new location for another two years while provincial authorities scouted out land for them to resettle on permanently.
However, Nguyen Yon Mas, a representative of what he said was about 800 to 900 ethnic Vietnamese people living in the villages, said most of the families had lived there since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979—and wanted to stay.
Mas told Cambodia Daily that some villagers already had land on the shore and could simply live there, but that those with no land were concerned that they were being shunted out of sight by authorities offering only vague promises of permanent resettlement.