Wednesday, 16 February 2011

World Vision responds as thousands displaced due Thai-Cambodia border conflict

via CAAI

Source: World Vision
Date: 15 Feb 2011

More than 30,000 villagers living near the borders of Thailand and Cambodia were affected when the fighting erupted around the Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province. The exchange of fire started on the first week of February and lasted for four days.

"World Vision is concerned about the affected families – especially the children and babies – who are still living in shelters, afraid to go home for fear of their safety. I hope that both governments will be able to resolve this issue peacefully and soon so that people don't suffer needlessly," said Esther Halim, Country Director of WV Cambodia.

In Cambodia, evacuees are staying in pagodas, schools, and rice fields. Children are getting sick with diarrhoea and fever. Sanitation is a great concern as evacuees just use nearby areas for defecation.

"My heart goes out to the children, who in this case, came from the most vulnerable families. The evacuees are faced with lack of access to safe water, latrines and proper shelter. World Vision will do its best to serve their urgent needs and we are appealing for USD 112,000 for our response," said Halim.

In Thailand, several areas along the border were impacted as many communities from Si Sa Ket province fled to these areas. Most of the 21,000 evacuees were sheltered in temporary shelters set up by the government.

"World Vision serves all people regardless of political affiliation or cultural heritage. Our focus is on the well-being of children and their families," said Chitra Thumborisuth, National Director of World Vision Foundation of Thailand.

"In response to a request by the local government, we distributed more than 1,000 emergency kits in two government shelters." These contained rice, canned fish, cooking oil, water, noodles, fish sauce, sanitary napkin, toothpaste and mosquito protection lotion.

In Cambodia, World Vision took part in a joint assessment other NGOs and the government before mounting its relief operation to meet the identified needs of the evacuees.

"We have already distributed more than 400 family and hygiene kits and we will continue providing aid in the next few days," added Halim.

Each family received two cooking pots, toothbrushes and toothpaste, plates, spoons, soap powder, sanitary napkins, bath soap, mosquito killer, 20 litres of purified drinking water and a plastic family tent. World Vision Cambodia will also be setting up latrines and temporary shelters.

As part of its child protection interventions, World Vision has deployed its child protection officers and outreach workers to set up Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) in some of the evacuation sites in Cambodia and raise awareness on the risks to children in this situation.

At the CFS, the children will learn how to clean themselves, the environment and they will also play games. Through the CFS, the community will also be mobilised on sanitation.

Currently, most of the 21,000 evacuees in Thailand are now returning home while thousands still remains in the temporary government shelters. Classes have also resumed on Monday, though tension remains high. Thumborisuth said that World Vision Foundation Thailand is continuously monitoring the situation on the Thai side of the border.

"The local government is well equipped and has enough resources for now to provide for the needs of the remaining evacuees. We are praying for reconciliation and the normality of relations. Our organisation will continue supporting affected children and families and we are ready to respond immediately in the unfortunate event that the crossfire resumes. Villagers are still afraid of what may happen in the coming days," she added.

Meanwhile, much uncertainty remains for the evacuees in Cambodia. The displaced families are likely to remain in camps for some time.

While the Preah Vihear temple was awarded by the International Court of Justice to Cambodia, a small area surrounding the temple has always been contentious, with claims from the Thai side that that area has never been fully demarcated. Both sides have always retained troops on the border and clashes have erupted intermittently over the years.

Media contacts:

World Vision Cambodia:

Dinah Dimalanta, Ministry Quality Director – Mobile No.: (+855) 128002

Vibol Chab, Operations Director – Mobile No.: (+855) 12333097

WV Foundation of Thailand:

Chitra Thumborisuth, National Director – Mobile No.: +66814834513

Renate Vuuren, Communications Manager – Mobile No.: +66823889908

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