Cambodia delays resettlement of ethnic Vietnamese from floating villages

By Sen    January 6, 2019 | 06:50 pm PT
Cambodia delays resettlement of ethnic Vietnamese from floating villages
Many people living on the Tonle Sap water are ethnic Vietnamese. Photo by Shutterstock/Arthur Felixovich
Cambodia has delayed the relocation of hundreds of ethnic Vietnamese families from the Tonle Sap River until July.

The Kampong Chhnang Province administration plans to move 750 families as part of a five-year plan to beautify the riverfront and improve water quality.

Governor Chhour Chandoeun said authorities made the decision to postpone the relocation after considering the impact it would have on the livelihoods of the families, the Phnom Penh Post reported Thursday.

"We constantly think about the people’s livelihoods. In this case, they have been doing cage fish farming. So if we move the cages on to land, the fish will die. So we let them keep their homes and cage fish farms temporarily.

"They need to settle on land. They can keep their cage fish farms but can’t live in the area permanently."

He added that authorities are preparing for the relocation within the next six months.

It will be done in two phases, according to provincial deputy governor Sun Sovannarith.

In the first phase, the government will build the required infrastructure for families already relocated and those who do not make a living off fish cages.

In the resettlement areas, local authorities and NGOs will build roads, schools, health centers, and water and power supply systems.

In the second phase authorities will work with private companies to turn fish farms into tourist attractions.

Cambodia's Lake Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater body in Southeast Asia. Boasting one of the most fertile ecosystems in the world, it provides 75 percent of Cambodia's freshwater fish catches.

According to the Cambodian Overseas Vietnamese Association, over 1,500 Vietnamese households live in floating villages by the lake.

At a meeting last November Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh agreed to work together to relocate the floating families in the Tonle Sap area.

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