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Church stands by to help in border clash

Thousands caught in fallout from deadly fighting over disputed territory

Bishop Banchong Chaiyara with some displaced people in Si Saket province (Photo courtesy of COERR) Bishop Banchong Chaiyara with some displaced people in Si Saket province (Photo courtesy of COERR)
  • Panithan Kitsakul, Sam Phran
  • International
  • February 14, 2011
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Churches and schools are prepared to provide any long-term assistance to people displaced by recent deadly border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia, a local bishop said.

“We have a policy that all Catholic organizations are ready to provide support to affected people immediately” as there was no way to know when fighting might resume, said Bishop Banchong Chaiyara of Ubon Ratchathani.

Local media report that after 3,000 affected people returned home, they could still hear firing so some of them turned back or stayed at a nearby temple.

Father Anucha Chaopraeknoi, chaplain of the volunteer group of the Catholic Commission for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR), said “COERR is coordinating with Ubon Ratchathani diocese and churches in the area. If the situation worsens again, women’s groups in the churches nearby will immediately help them with cooking, while COERR will provide funds.”

Suwan Laothathit of the volunteer group said they visited Ban Tha Sawang school, some 10km on the Thai side of the border and cooked for the displaced families, who he said have to live in tents in very hot conditions.

Boonnithi Namboon from Ubon Ratchathani diocese said they distributed basic supplies and blankets to 3,000 affected persons at the school

On February 12 the Thai government announced that the situation had improved so all villagers were to return home, but many are still frightened and concerned about their security, said Suwan. Fighting had ceased but the problem was not yet solved, he added, and villagers remain ready to flee again at a moment’s notice.

Related reports
Villagers flee border clashes
Cambodians displaced by border clash get help

TH13263.1641
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