BANGKOK, THAILAND, November 16, 2023 (Religion News): The human rights group Amnesty International has strongly criticized UNESCO and its World Heritage program for failing to challenge the Cambodian government’s ongoing mass evictions at the famous centuries-old Angkor Wat temple complex. The London-based organization in a report released Tuesday charged that the evictions of an estimated 10,000 families by Cambodian authorities violated international and national law. It said the evicted people have received little or no compensation and the government’s two main resettlement sites have inadequate facilities in terms of roads, water and electricity supplies and sanitation.

The report accused UNESCO of disregarding U.N. guidelines in failing in its obligation to intervene and promote the human right to housing. UNESCO should take a stand especially because its designation of Angkor Wat as a World Heritage site needing protection from damage was reportedly used by Cambodia’s government as an excuse for moving people away from it, said Amnesty. There are more than 1,200 World Heritage sites worldwide. Angkor Wat was granted that status in 1992, in part because of fears that the growth of human settlements on the site posed a possible threat to its preservation. However, the designation was not clear regarding existing settlements, which until last year were left basically undisturbed, said the report. Cambodia is now keen to develop the area for tourism, which lapsed during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the families being evicted were engaged in tourism-related businesses.

More at source.