US ends Cambodia aid programme over deforestation, arrests

US ends Cambodia aid programme over deforestation, arrests

PHNOM PENH: The United States is ending a Cambodian aid programme aimed at protecting one its biggest wildlife sanctuaries, citing worsening deforestation and harassment of those who speak out about destruction of natural resources.

The US embassy in Phnom Penh said it had invested more than $100 million on combating deforestation and despite some progress, high rates of illegal logging had continued.

The Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary had since 2016 lost approximately 38,000 hectares of forest, or nearly 9% of its forest cover, the embassy said.

It said Cambodian authorities were not adequately prosecuting wildlife crimes or stopping illicit activities.

"In addition, the government continues to silence and target local communities and their civil society partners who are justifiably concerned about the loss of their natural resources," the statement said.

The embassy said the aid would be redirected to support civil society, private sector and local conservation efforts.

In February, authorities detained and later released environmental activists protesting inside the sanctuary.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) said four environmental activists were arrested on Thursday alone.

The embassy said it would continue to engage with the government on climate change and environmental issues of mutual and global concern.

The government denied large-scale illegal logging activities were continuing at Prey Lang but said the withdrawal of the U.S. aid showed Cambodia was capable of protecting its own environment .

"Large-scale natural resource crimes in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and other protected areas no longer occur, but small-scale crimes continue to occur," said environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

Do you like the content of this article?

Two more Covid deaths, 884 new infections in Chon Buri

CHON BURI: Two more Covid-19 deaths and 884 new infections were reported in this dark-red zoned eastern province on Tuesday, as case numbers keep rising.


Myanmar junta officially nullifies November poll

A military-appointed election commission in Myanmar has officially nullified the results of a November general election that the military alleged was marred by widespread fraud, state media reported Monday night.


Night owls arrested in Pattaya raids

CHON BURI: Seventy-eight Thai and foreign tourists were arrested for violating the Covid-19 emergency decree during raids on two shops in Pattaya on Monday night, police said.