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Cambodians flee Thai border fighting

Caritas swings behind relief effort for families caught in crossfire

Cambodians flee Thai border fighting
The ancient Angkor Wat complex, a Cambodian icon
Phat Samphy, Phnom Penh

February 9, 2011

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Caritas Cambodia has joined the local Red Cross and Oxfam in providing relief materials to some 2,000 families who have fled deadly firing between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces on the border between the two countries. The NGOs gave each family 25kg of rice, a mosquito net, a blanket, a cotton scarf and two sets of clothes in an area 70km from the border, in Preah Vihear province, where they have been putting up shelters and water tanks. Thourn Rattana, of Caritas' disaster staff, said most of the displaced are poor farmers. Some are family and relatives of soldiers. They fled the clashes with nothing, and took refuge in schools and temples or under trees. Some asked local residents for shelter. “The main problems in shelters are lacks of hygiene and medical care. So refugees are in a very difficult situation.” said Thourn. “I am concerned about continuous tension between the two countries. It will make more suffering for people and more displaced people,” she added. Thoy Yong, a 45-year-old displaced person, said she escaped from home with nothing because of the heavy artillery firing. “I was so sad and depressed. I was not aware of the safety of my husband because he was a soldier in the front line. And my children have not enough food to eat,” she said. “NGOs gave us donations. But I don't know how long this will go on,” she added. “We gave donations, especially basic needs, because we want to reduce their suffering,” said Kim Ratana, executive director of Cambodian Caritas. The situation has been calm since Monday afternoon. However, troops remain on alert, reported local media. Cambodia media has reported five dead (soldiers and civilians) in the clashes and more than 25 injured. Thai media report three dead – 2 soldiers and 1 civilian – and claim the country has rejected the idea of United Nations intervention in the dispute. Related report Villagers flee border clashes CA13225.1640
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