US pulls Cambodia wildlife sanctuary funding | News | DW | 17.06.2021

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US pulls Cambodia wildlife sanctuary funding

The US Embassy in Phnom Penh says it has spent more than $100 million to combat deforestation in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. But illegal activities continue apace.

Illegal logging has resulted in loss of natural resources at wildlife sanctuaries

Illegal logging has resulted in loss of natural resources at wildlife sanctuaries

The United States is ending an aid program aimed at protecting one of Cambodia's biggest wildlife sanctuaries, the US Embassy in Phnom Penh said on Thursday.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will redirect the money to support civil society and private sector initiatives to improve livelihoods in the region. 

Why did the US stop the funding?

The US foreign aid organization said it had invested more than $100 million (€83.5 million) to protect the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Since beginning assistance in 2016, it had increased ranger patrols and trained law enforcement officers.

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But the sanctuary lost over 38,000 hectares (93,900 acres) of forest, or nearly 9% of its forest cover, during that time, the US Embassy said. Cambodian authorities had not adequately prosecuted wildlife crimes or put a stop to illicit activities, it added.

Well-documented illegal logging continues around the sanctuary, and authorities have silenced communities worried about the loss of natural resources, the embassy statement said.

What will happen to the money?

The funding will be redirected to support civil society, the private sector and local efforts to improve livelihoods and expand climate sensitive agriculture.

The US says it will also continue to work with the Cambodian government through initiatives like the Mekong-US partnership, which was launched last year with an eye toward countering the growing influence of China in the region.

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rm/rt (Reuters)

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