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Border clash sets back Mekong aid work

Territorial dispute is disrupting development and endangering migrants, rights network warns

Cambodian villagers displaced by the fighting (Photo courtesy of Caritas Cambodia) Cambodian villagers displaced by the fighting (Photo courtesy of Caritas Cambodia)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bangkok
  • Thailand
  • February 17, 2011
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Recent border clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops have set back gains made in recent years in developing the local people and the region, say civil organizations.

“We believed and hoped that our region was moving forwards, was moving away from conflicts and sorrows. But the situation today between Cambodia and Thailand is moving us back not forwards,” the Mekong Migration Network said today in a statement.

The current conflict between Thailand and Cambodia has already claimed nine lives and displaced over 25,000 villagers. The network is deeply concerned for the well-being of thousands of displaced Cambodians and Thais whose lives have been severely disrupted by the clashes, it said.

It also expressed concern that action and words by the Thai and Cambodian governments have given “opportunities to those who would like to incite hatred” between the peoples of the two countries. This is a “dangerous and sad situation” especially for migrant workers from Cambodia working and living in Thailand who may bear the brunt of any “xenophobic rage”.

Mekong Migration Network members are committed to promoting their cultural diversity and benefiting from the sharing of knowledge.

Members called on Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen to immediately halt all military offensives and to take all peaceful measures necessary to resolve the current dispute, to ensure the security and safety of all displaced persons on the border.

They urged the two leaders to fulfill their commitment to Cambodian migrants in Thailand - for the Thai government to ensure that they are not victims of hate crimes, and that they are not deported purely for being Cambodian.

The network has 37 members, eight of which are from Cambodia and 18 from Thailand. It includes the National Catholic Commission on Migration that works with Caritas Thailand, the coordinating organization on social work of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand. This commission was set up to serve the pastoral needs of the growing number of migrants in Thailand, especially those coming from the troubled neighboring countries of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

AS13332.1641

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