Thai officials plan to show United State's President Jimmy Carter's wife Rosalynn the Kampuchean refugee plight at its worst in a crowded, camp at Sa Kaeo.
Thai officials plan to show United State's President Jimmy Carter's wife Rosalynn the Kampuchean refugee plight at its worst in a crowded, camp at Sa Kaeo. The Thai government has welcomed the unexpected visit of the United States first lady as a chance to dramatise the tragedy of Kampucheans who have walked or crawled to Thailand from a homeland stalked by famine, disease and war.
SYNOPSIS: The camp at Sa Kaeo, in Southeast Thailand, about thirty-five miles (60 kilometres) from the frontier of Kampuchea, now houses about 30,000 people.
The Kampucheans who call the camp home are more fortunate than many of their countrymen and receive a regular rice ration. And the rivers of Thailand have proven to be a source of abundant fish.
The occupants of the Thai camps are classified as illegal immigrants rather than formal refuges, who have fled in search of sanctuary from fighting between the Vietnamese-led forces of the present Kampuchean government and guerrillas loyal to ousted Premier Pol Pot. And as the Kampucheans try to seek out a life in exile, relief officials face many political and logistical problems in funnelling aid to kampuchea and the Thai camps, despite pledges of more than two hundred million dollars towards aid.
On Tuesday (6 November) a senior United Nations relief official warned that a quarter of the 200,000 Kampuchean refugees now in Thailand face imminent death if the situation doesn't improve.
The refugees at Sa Kaeo are the more fortunate ones, but there are not guarantees that supplies will come regularly. Thai officials are hoping that Mrs. Carter's visit to the camp will encourage her husband's government to pledge more aid.