Friday, January 27, 2012

Vulnerable evictees speak out

An 11-year-old HIV-positive girl evicted from Borei Keila moved back to Phnom Penh to live with her aunt because she had no access to medication at her relocation site in Kandal province, she said yesterday.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Theng Sovannary, 11, who is HIV-positive, says she no longer had access to anti-retroviral drugs after being relocated with her family to a site in Kandal provice, following the Borei Keila eviction this month.
During another day of protests outside the National Assembly, schoolgirl Theng Sovannary, whose parents died of AIDS, spoke of being sent to Ponhea Leu district on January 4, the day after more than 200 homes were demolished at Borei Keila.

Theng Sovannary had been living with her sister and grandmother before being relocated, but moved back to Phnom Penh a week ago to live with her aunt because her condition had deteriorated without medication.

“I feel exhausted, itchy and have diarrhea because I did not have HIV medicines and food,” she said.

Her sister Theng Sovan Vorleak, 16, said they had been living at the relocation site in an open tent with no access to a toilet, clean water or food.

“I hope that the government will help us,” she said.

The girls’ aunt, Khorn Malin, 46, also cares for two orphaned nephews afflicted with HIV and blood cancer.

The sisters’ story was one of many shared yesterday by evicted residents of Borei Keila battling disease or disability.

Hov Kok Han, a former soldier who lost his legs during the Khmer Rouge regime, said he simply wanted a proper house.

“I am 60 years old now and have never protested or caused trouble for the government. I ask the government not to abandon my family and me,” he said.

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who joined the evicted residents yesterday, said she sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday requesting he provide houses in Borei Keila for residents who had HIV/AIDS or a disability.

She had also called for an independent committee to establish why development firm Phan Imex had not honoured its contract, she said.

In 2003, Phan Imex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land at Borei Keila to house 1,776 families, in exchange for development rights to a remaining 2.6 hectares. The firm has constructed only eight buildings.