Church & Society

The suffering of marginalized ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia August 29, 2019

Ethnic Vietnamese communities have lived for generations on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia, forming floating villages on the lake and fishing for a living.

Most of them are stateless, since they are not given naturalization papers, and are consequently unable to have access to education, health care, formal employment and owning property.

Many have to rent land from Cambodians to erect shelters and pay tax to get fishing permits from the government.

Church workers said local authorities have moved at least 400 ethnic Vietnamese families in the southeast province of Kampong Chhnang to land since last year. They are concerned about water pollution, overfishing, illegal fishing and damage to the lake’s ecosystem.

They said the same number of families who are still on the water will be relocated to land in the coming months.

Those who were moved from the water are in settlements that are far away from the lake, lack adequate housing, water supply and other services.

Some who have enough money buy plots of land near the lake, build houses and do small business.

Ethnic Vietnamese are the largest minority group in Cambodia, consisting of about 50,000 families or over 180,000 people, according to government statistics.

Photos by reporter

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