Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World Bank in talks with Cambodia over evictions

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A senior World Bank official held talks with the Cambodian government over the forced eviction of people from their homes and said the development bank would continue to work with it on land reform to tackle the problem.

Land ownership is a controversial issue in Cambodia, where legal documents were destroyed and state institutions collapsed under the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and the civil war that followed.

The World Bank joined with other aid donors in July to ask the government to halt forced evictions and the problem was raised again by its vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific Region, James Adams, during a visit last week.

"A major focus of the visit was Cambodia's urban land sector and the increasing numbers of disputes and evictions of poor people in urban settlements," the bank said in a statement.

"The discussions on land reform were constructive and it was agreed to continue these discussions over the coming week to agree next steps," it said.

The bank has provided funding of $24.3 million for a land management and administration project from 2002 to 2009, and an estimated 1.1 million land titles were issued, said Bou Saroeun, a spokesman for the World Bank in Phnom Penh.

Other donors such as Germany, Finland and Canada have together provided more than $14 million to support the land title project, Saroeun added.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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