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TONY EASTLEY: Today is World Homelessness Day so our focus is not just Australian.
In the post Pol Pot Khmer Rouge years the broken and rusting train wrecks in Cambodia were emblematic of the country itself.
Through international aid, much of it from Australia, Cambodia's rail system is being rebuilt.
AusAID will step in to finish tracks, build a port link and a bridge in an effort to get the trains running again.
But as South East Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel reports the project has been fraught with delays and difficulties relocating residents who want to hang on to their very modest housing.
ZOE DANIEL: The project has been underway since 2010 but few trains are operating. It's been plagued with delays, mostly because of the need to move 4,000 families from areas near the tracks.
That's been the Cambodian government's responsibility. But residents have also criticised AusAID and project leader The Asian Development Bank. They say they've been given inadequate compensation and have been moved away from their livelihoods.
(Sound of woman speaking)
"My child is at school, level six," this woman tells me. "And when he sees me like this, in this difficult situation, he stopped going to school to help me make money."
Some have borrowed to build new houses and are now overloaded with debt and distress.
(Sound of woman crying and speaking)
"I have nothing," cries this woman.
Thirty families have now made a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. They claim the Australian Government has failed in its international obligations by partly funding the railway project without safeguarding their human rights.
Australian human rights lawyer Natalie Bugalski put the complaint together.
NATALIE BUGALSKI: We're seeing severe, unmanageable indebtedness as a result of inadequate compensation rates and also moving families away from their livelihood sources.
AusAID will allocate another $1 million to resettle communities, partly to help with debt management.
Meanwhile Australian company Toll, which had suspended its involvement in the project due to delays, is once again operating and has reaffirmed its commitment.
However another bidder has emerged - Rail Services Cambodia Limited - which has submitted a proposal to take over the lease from Toll.
Chinese company SPCC and Malaysian company Hikmat would not only run the trains on the existing north-south lines but would build a new track between Phnom Penh and Vietnam at a cost of up to $1 billion.
Neither Toll or the Cambodian government would comment.
In Phnom Penh this is Zoe Daniel for AM.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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