|UN Statement on Coordinated Response to Short-term Emergency Humanitarian Needs of Relocated Families at Tuol Sambo|
The UN Country Team in Cambodia
Together with NGO partners, the United Nations is contributing to a one-time emergency assistance package for the 42 families who have been relocated to Tuol Sambo. This includes upgrading the housing stock to assist in the integration of the relocated HIV affected families into the wider community and remove the conditions for discrimination, a three-month food package to alleviate food shortages, and livelihood development assistance. This assistance should not be regarded as an endorsement of the eviction, nor does it set a precedent for the future.
Forty-two families, including people living with or affected by HIV, and an additional three families, 23 of whom were living in temporary shelters at Borei Keila, were moved by Municipal Authorities to Tuol Sambo, a site 17 kilometres from Phnom Penh. Some of the families were evicted on 18 June 2009, while others were relocated on 24 July 2009.
Housing HIV affected families together in a single location, separate from other villagers, in housing of a lower quality and size than neighbouring homes is neither morally nor legally acceptable. It creates conditions for long-term stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. Additionally, food security and access to livelihood opportunities for the relocated families has been constrained, and these families face an immediate emergency humanitarian situation.
The United Nations’ primary concerns are to help the Municipality of Phnom Penh to address the humanitarian needs of people living with HIV and their families, to prevent any possible stigma and discrimination, and to protect these individuals’ human rights in accordance with Cambodia’s AIDS and related legislations, policies and the international conventions to which Cambodia is a signatory.
The continued aim of the United Nations in Cambodia is to support the government’s own efforts to ensure sustainable and humane development policies and practices. This situation highlights the urgent need for national guidelines to regulate evictions and relocations based on the constitution, the land law and other existing legislation. The United Nations reiterates its recommendation that a moratorium on evictions and relocations be considered until such guidelines are in place.
Recognizing the complex issues surrounding land and the vital role land plays to the sustainable development of Cambodia, the United Nations offers its support and technical assistance to government authorities and all relevant stakeholders to assist with the development of national guidelines on evictions, relocations and resettlements, and to work together to implement them in a legal, peaceful and fair manner.
The United Nations attempted to prevent the eviction of HIV affected families at Borei Keila and registered its objection to the relocation of Borei Keila families by the Phnom Penh Municipality, and to the Royal Government of Cambodia at the highest level. The accommodation at Tuol Sambo, in the form of warehouse-style galvanized iron sheds, does not meet basic minimum standards for housing and stands in stark contrast to the adjacent brick buildings provided by an NGO to families who lost their homes in a riverbank slide.
Article 31 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia recognizes the right of every Cambodian citizen to an adequate standard of living including food, housing and medical care. In the Cambodian Law on the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, the State prohibits discrimination against those persons suspected or known to be infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS in compliance with national Discrimination Acts and Policies, Article 36 to 42.
Caritas, the United Nations’ partner in its work with the Tuol Sambo community, is also contributing to long-term support to the community under its area development programme. The organizations have worked jointly to ensure the provision of additional land by the Municipality, including the removal of potential stigma and discrimination by enabling the integration of HIV affected households into the wider community. This can be done by random allocation of housing in the overall housing scheme, access to a fishpond and other income generation schemes for livelihood purposes, and a recreation area for children within the community. Access to health services, anti-retroviral therapy, and related home-based-care services is provided by KHANA’s implementing partners under the Royal Government’s National Continuum of Care Programme.
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