One of the biggest yet relief missions from a Catholic Organisation has managed to reach the eastern border of Thailand to bring desperately needed supplies to refugees in the war-ravaged Kampuchean province of Battambang.
One of the biggest yet relief missions from a Catholic Organisation has managed to reach the eastern border of Thailand to bring desperately needed supplies to refugees in the war-ravaged Kampuchean province of Battambang. About one thousand Kampucheans wearing ragged clothes, bringing ox carts with them, had trudged for hours to receive the relief, and return it to their countrymen. This operation involved ten truckloads of food, medical supplies and clothing. More than thirteen thousand Kampuchean refugees, mainly women, children and the sick, have massed along the border, hoping to cross into Thailand. They are not being allowed in, but operations such as this are bringing them some relief.
SYNOPSIS: Organisations like the Catholic Relief Service are doing what they can to get supplies to the desperate people on the other side of Thailand's dangerous border with Kampuchea. Thailand, fearing that the fighting across that border may spread to Thai territory is determined that these supplies will not fall into the hands of the guerrillas or Vietnamese army units.
A convoy like this takes days of negotiations, but occasionally they are allowed through. This convoy carries rice and plastic sheeting for shelters. But is the convoy not just a drop in the ocean?
Loaded up, its cargo hidden under tarpaulins, the convoy heads for the border. The closer it gets, the more military checkpoints the convoy has to pass.
Once across, the convoy will be unloaded as fast as possible to avoid capture by guerrillas or the Vietnamese. The whole operation, until all the supplies have finally been distributed, takes a week.
Visitors are not welcome. This checkpoint is the last one for the newsmen, but the convoy is allowed to carry on.
In the nearby frontier town of Aranyaprathet, life seems normal, in spite of troops in the streets and the fear that the Kampuchean fighting could spill over into Thailand. When a Vietnamese official was asked about such fears, he said Vietnam did not invade in January, when everybody talked about it, so why should Vietnam invade now? But Thailand is taking no chances: A seminar was held recently to plan mass evacuation in case of invasion.