Sunday, 30 August 2009

Remembering KHAO I DANG Refugee Camp in Thailand


Khao-I-Dang Khmer refugee camp was located 20 Km north of Aranyaprathet in Prachinburi (now Sakeo) province Thailand.


Khao-I-Dang was the oldest and most enduring camp on the border. It opened Nov. 21, 1979 and closed in 1992 during the UNTAC repatriation when all remaining residents were moved to Site II to await their personal repatriation.

During its peak period, 1979-1985, KID was sometimes the equivalent of Site II in population but the population was in flux and transit, some going to third countries, some only seeking shelter until they could see what the future would bring.

KID became a unique camp on the border, it was the only camp not controlled by one of the resistance factions, it was a UNHCR / Thai MOI camp, its residents were recognised as "Refugees" and were entitled to a higher level of protection, care and nutrition than people in the UNBRO administered camps (not a criticism of UNBRO, the Thais ultimately decided what UNBRO was allowed to do). KID was also the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement in third countries.

ICRC chose KID for their first border surgical hospital where acute trauma patients were cared for, this was initially war wounded but came to be dominated by landmine victims.

When I started working in KID in 1990 is was only a shadow of what it had been in terms of population. It was the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement, although by 1990 all of the remaining residents of KID had been turned down for resettlement and had little hope of being accepted by any country in the future. In many cases they had been turned down because of past activities or associations as KR, they could not go back and they could not go forward, this made for a sense of helplessness and a lethargy in the camp.

During repatriation the residents of KID were the most vocal in opposition to what they felt was a forced repatriation and held numerous demonstrations both as a group and occasionally as individuals.
KID had the most extensive coverage by programs operated by NGOs - medical, health, sanitation, education, social, vocational..... Many long term residents had been through multiple programs and were qualified health care workers, teachers and / or in some other vocation such as mechanics.

Medical - (see glossary for abbreviations)
IRC - Medical Coordination, OPD, Public Health & Training
HI - Hospital
COR - Mother Child Health clinic
ICRC - ICRC surgical hospital
Khmer Traditional Medicine

Education -
IRC - Primary, secondary, ESL, teacher training
YWAM - secondary
COR - vocational skills

Social -
IRC - Khmer Arts & Dance

Printing -
IRC - educational materials, literature, materials for NGOs, export
JSRC - literature, export

average monthly population between December 1981 and November 1982 - approximately 42,700 (ref. CDC report)
December 1982 - 40,134 (ref. CDC report)
mid-June 1983 - 57,500 (ref. CDC report)
1991 - 14,734


Anonymous said...

What you have here are treasure troves and priceless images that evoke many vivid both sweet and bitter memories. Ah, the improvised dentist chairs that provide much relieves from the suffering to many including myself. A precious gift that I still carry with me till this day and is still going strong I might add, a filling. A heartful thank you to those doctors from many nations who dispensed much joy and smiles to many in KID. Yes, I was/am one of the KID's tiny kid. :-)

Thanks CAAI for bringing these. By the way if it is not too much, do you by any chance have a picture of the KID mountain? It is always the background backdrop to KID.

Anonymous said...

Once in a while I found myself missing Khao I Dang.
Believe it or not, memories of Khao I Dang gives me a profound feeling of my childhood past-time. I miss it a lot. I almost wish that I have the opportunity to go back in time to play once again with all of my friends that I once know in Kao I Dang. Great thank to this web site.

Dave said...

I really need to find out who took the pictures of the Hygienist's at work in the final two pictures that are posted at the Christian Dental Outreach Center or any other information in regards to the photos or the Christian Dental Outreach Center. The person in the yellow shirt in the picture is my mother! I was just surfing the internet and looking up things when I stumbled upon the pictures when my dad told me that the pictures were of my mother! She cried when she saw these pictures. It was out of this world that a random picture from over 25-26 years ago was posted online! Her name is Savorn Sam and she worked at this dental center during the early 80's until she left the refugee camp in 1985. If anyone would have any information or contacts for these pictures, it would be very much appreciated.

Sophy said...

Hi, thanks for this page and the pictures. Told to me by my mom I was born in khao I dang at 11pm. According to the brown birth record. I would like to know who my father was. My mom told me "stories" that my father was a Thai soldier who rode a bike to give her money and MSG. The story is always changing and I I know she is hiding something. Was it possible she was raped?I was born august, 24. 1982. I had an older brother and older sister whose name were Hun and Sophean and my moms name was Phien Nguon. We all came to the United States in 1983. if anyone knows any info about my father, my family or me as an infant I would love to hear from you. Ssantana@graffiti. Net


We are the Children of Khao I Dang. I remember mum getting corn for us to eat and my sister eating a jar of chilli by accident!

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

Thanks for sharing on the website. I too was born in the camp in 1982 and don't have any recollection photos of the camp. If you have any photos of the camp dated back from the first settlement til the camp close, can you please email them to me

One miserable memory I have was when I almost drown someone. I send that person to jump into the wrong swimming pond and that person almost drown because of that.

Please if you have photos of the camp please send them to me. Like to keep those memories and share it with others if need it...

sokhoeun said...


Does anyone know how to find 1980 birth records for this camp. I am trying to find my biological mother, but dont know where to start or even if it is possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

email is
Warmest regards to all

Anonymous said...

If you have, please consider joining khaoidang refugee camp group to get connected with others.

Anonymous said...

I volunteered in KID for 3 months from Nov-Feb 1979. It had 10,000 people when I arrived, and 100,000 when I left. I have many memories -- I once spent the night in the camp (against the rules), with Khmer friends I'd made.

Karma: years later I'd gotten my PhD and was teaching at a good US university. One of my students was Cambodian-American. Sure enough, she had come through KID when she was 2 years old. Her father drove a taxi in the US, to support his family.

I also ran into Mark Malloch-Brown many years later, in Syria, at a conference.

The world is full of amazing connections...

khmrus said...

Thanks for posting these up. It bring lots of memories. I'd been searching for one of my best friend who helped me alot throu those time we met in Khao I dang Camp. His names is Bob. He was a TB Doctor working at the Khmer & Thai's border that time. Eventhought he spoke fluence khmer but he was still take me everywhere he went for his personal tranlator. We learnt from each other a lots. Until one time he got caught staying over nite in our house in the Camp. That was the last time I saw him.

We always remembering! And Thanks!

Khao I Dang Camp Thailand said...

In Facebook Go to:
"Khao I dang refugee camp"
and keep the memories of KID alive.

Jae Love said...

I wish I can remember the camp. I was born in 1983. My family left the camp in 1986. I can't remember anything and if I do, I don't know if they are real or just my imagination playing tricks on me. Either way, I am so glad to have came across this. I am a very proud Cambodian woman and I will cherish every single picture and story that I find about Khao I Dang. I have no pictures from that time period in my life. I feel blessed to even have access to these photos. Thank you so kindly. Please share more photos with me if you have them. I appreciate it very much. My email is

Thank you,
Jae Om

Anonymous said...

I was also in KID for 2 years from 1979 to 1981. I was 11 and KID represents all my childhood with sweet and bitter memories. Now I am 43, but KID is in my mind a sad but strong period of my live i can't forget. I'll be back to visit KID and relive theses moments

Cambodian Songs said...

Everyone of us was abused in that Thai camp.

Anonymous said...

I was born in KID on June 20th 1982 to a Chinese mother and Cambodian father. My father recently passed away, which has left me devastated because I really wish I had shown him all of these photos and these sites whilst he was still alive.
He had family but I don't think they were in KID with him. I also have been advised they now probably reside in the US, most likely California. It was told that one of his siblings was named Sovann and his father's name was Prom Nieng. My father's name is Prom Peov and he passed away November 3rd 2012. I would love to find any of his family and reconnect, just so I can still feel that link to him. We migrated to Australia January 1983 and live in Adelaide. I have 3 younger brothers born in Adelaide whom I love to death. I appreciate what dad did for us, because without him, we wouldn't be here living in this first world, free country. So if anyone can relate or might have any pictures or clues, please contact me - is my email. RIP Dad, we miss you xx.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this site. I worked as a nurse in the pediatric hospital in KID for most of 1981. Sometimes I slept in the camp, even though we weren't allowed to. I remember my translator, Sarouen. He was so much help to me. I remember the Khmer people. I made many dear fiends and would love to see them all again someday. I cried when I left, but I had to go.thank you fr posting these pictures. It brought back many memories.

Anonymous said...

Piece of writing writing is also a excitement,
if you be familiar with then you can write otherwise it
is difficult to write.

Look into my web-site: how to get lot of followers on instagram

Anonymous said...

Largе handfulѕ οf frеѕh greеn coffee bean ехtract mint ωill also be eating away at yοuг musclе аnd alѕo dо largе
wеight exercise foг big muscles.
Wеight lifting Any type of νaginal bleеding, call your neareѕt satellite
ΤV ρгovіder tο κnow thе diffeгence between those who took plaсebo is gеnerally quite moԁest.

A lot of ρeoρle takе аdvantage of the hourѕ around ԁuѕk
and dawn for outԁoor ωorkoutѕ. Тhe HCG drops diet mаy be
to blame for but to pay the ρrіcе.
Thіrty eight аdult men particіpatеd fоr the anаlysis.

Аlso ѵiѕit my homеρage ::

Anonymous said...

Howdy suρerb blog! Does runnіng a blοg like this take a lοt of work?
I've virtually no knowledge of computer programming however I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyways, if you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject but I simply needed to ask. Appreciate it!

Here is my web-site ::

Anonymous said...

Fine way of telling, and good article to obtain faсts on
the topiс οf my presentаtiоn
topic, which і аm goіng to сonvey in acаdemy.

Аlso viѕit mу web ѕite ... resistor color code calculator

Anonymous said...

Genuinely no matter if someоnе dοesn't know after that its up to other people that they will help, so here it happens.

Also visit my website:

Anonymous said...

Gary Five Mobile or portable Handsets During India

Stop by my homepage :: mp3 to video

Anonymous said...

Quotation And Contrast Associated with a Full High And Higher Ready Television

My weblog: portal

Ra Khiev said...

Thanks for posting, not a time goes by I don't think of this place, where adulthood and discipline started at age 7. I remember buying roasted grasshoppers from local Thai across the fence, and picking up left over vegetables from the market for my family to cook. We arrived behind a temple that night..memories..

Anonymous said...

I too have memories of KID and have published a photographic record of the various camp sites along the border. Available from Look under 'Cambodian Refuge' in the online bookstore.

Terry Gough

Vanna Seang said...

I think that person was me. My memory of a 3-4year was that I nearly drowned, because someone told me to jump into the swimming pond. I only vaguely recall being rescued by my other brother.