Authorities in An Giang Province of southern Vietnam are anxious about the potential entry of Vietnamese Cambodians living on floating houses on rivers in Phnom Penh as they are subject to relocation under a new decision of local authorities.
The concern was raised at a press conference held by the provincial Party Committee on Wednesday to release information about a new rule of the Phnom Penh administration in relation to Vietnamese Cambodians living there.
On June 2, Phnom Penh authorities issued a notice requesting that all the owners of floating houses and fish farms on rivers in the city be dismantled or relocated within a week, Tran Thai Thanh Huong, head of the An Giang propaganda and education committee, told the press briefing.
This decision came amid the increasing COVID-19 spread in both Vietnam and its southwest neighbor Cambodia, which borders An Giang.
Currently, about 1,300 households with more than 11,000 residents of Vietnamese origin are living on floating houses or boats and making a living by farming fish on Phnom Penh rivers, according to statistics from the Khmer - Vietnam Association in Cambodia.
These households have found it hard to prepare themselves for compliance with the sudden decision of Phnom Penh authorities, the conference was told.
Many of the affected people have Cambodian nationality and have been granted residence cards to legally reside in Cambodia.
After the decision was issued, many floating houses and fish rafts have been moved toward the Mekong River downstream area near Vietnam, causing more difficulty for Vietnamese authorities to prevent likely transmission from Cambodia, local Party Committee said.
The provincial authorities have suggested the Vietnamese government ask its Cambodian counterpart to solve legal status issues for Vietnamese Cambodians and to treat them humanely, especially for thousands of people who are living on boats anchored along the riverbank in Prek Tamlop Commune, Leuk Daek District of Kandal Province, Huong said.
An Giang’s leaders expressed their wish that Phnom Penh authorities ensure the legitimate interests of people living on boats and rafts, set a reasonable relocation roadmap for them, and support their resettlement.
The provincial administration does not allow the aforementioned vessels and rafts, as well as residents in Cambodia, to enter Vietnam in the currently complicated COVID-19 spread, local leaders said.
On Thursday noon, the Ministry of Health reported 220 new COVID-19 cases, which have taken the country’s tally of patients to 12,014, including 4,590 recoveries and 62 deaths.
Since April 27, when the pandemic’s fourth and worst wave so far began in Vietnam, 8,781 infections have been recorded in 40 of 63 provinces and cities.