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UDG promises never fulfilled, say villagers

A man sits next to the remains of his house in 2014 after it was allegedly destroyed by UDG in Koh Kong province.
A man sits next to the remains of his house in 2014 after it was allegedly destroyed by UDG in Koh Kong province. Heng Chivoan

UDG promises never fulfilled, say villagers

Some 200 of 381 families in Koh Kong province involved in an ongoing land dispute with Union Development Group have returned to their old villages in Kiri Sakor district, claiming the company failed to fully provide compensation promised five years ago.

Oum Virak, 55, a villager originally from Koh Sdach commune, said more than 200 families who had relocated to a site 20 kilometres away in 2011 decided to return to the area on May 27. He said the Chinese company had promised to provide 5 hectares of land for each family, $2,000 and a rice supply for three years.

He claimed UDG only gave each family 2.5 hectares of land and three packages of rice and villagers never received the $2,000. “We stopped believing the promises that the company made, that’s why we came back,” he said.

UDG, which holds some 45,000 hectares of concessions in Koh Kong, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Another of the villagers, Ngin Pak, said that living at the new site was “very difficult”. “The infrastructure is inadequate: there’s no school or hospital. We need the authority to find a solution for us,” he said.

Khim Chandy, governor of Kiri Sakor district, said the villagers only came back to demand that UDG fulfill its promise.

“They did not come back for living at their old place,” he said. “Now, [district] authorities and the company are finding a solution for them.”

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