Borei Keila: Broken Promises in Cambodia

Published on January 12, 2012

In early 2003, Phnom Penh's Borei Keila settlement became a test case for a new model on relocation of Cambodia's urban poor. At least 1,770 families lived on prime land near the city center, which authorities wanted to redevelop. The residents did not want to leave their homes.

As part of a compromise, the parties came to a "land-sharing" agreement. The arrangement stated that the well-connected Suy Sophan and her construction corporation, Phan Imex, would build 10 buildings to host all of Borei Keila residents in exchange for being allowed to commercially develop the remaining 2.6 hectares of land.

In April 2010, Phan Imex unilaterally reneged on the agreement, having only constructed eight buildings, leaving roughly 300 Borei Keila families excluded from the original agreement. On January 3, 2012, Phan Imex proceeded into to destroying these homes with the help of armed state forces.