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Activists Protest Cambodia's Relocation of HIV Sufferers to 'AIDS Colony'

by VR Sreeraman on July 29, 2009 at 5:08 PM
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 Activists Protest Cambodia's Relocation of HIV Sufferers to 'AIDS Colony'

AIDS campaigners and rights groups protested on Tuesday at Cambodia's shunting of sufferers of the virus into an insanitary "AIDS colony" outside the capital.

Over 100 international and domestic pressure groups told Prime Minister Hun Sen and Health Minister Mam Bunheng in a letter they were "deeply disturbed" by the government's treatment of 40 HIV-affected families.

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Over the past two months the government has evicted the families from Phnom Penh to live in metal sheds without running water or adequate sanitation at Tuol Sambo, an area 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the capital, it said.

"By bundling people living with HIV together into second-rate housing, far from medical facilities, support services and jobs, the government has created a de facto AIDS colony," said Shiba Phurailatpam, of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, in a statement issued by the groups.
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Rebecca Schleifer of New York-based Human Rights Watch said: "The housing conditions in Tuol Sambo pose serious health risks for families living there.

"People living with HIV have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable. For them, these substandard conditions can mean a death sentence or a ticket to a hospital," she added.

The Cambodian government has faced mounting criticism of forced evictions throughout the country at the hands of the army and police, which a recent human rights report said has affected more than 250,000 people.

Evictions for development purposes have increased in Cambodia as land prices have risen over the past few years. Critics say the practice is fuelling poverty.

Source: AFP
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