It is now more than 15 month since communist Pathet Lao forces took control in Laos, But despite strict security along the border, refugees are still fleeing into neighbouring Thailand.
GV PAN: refugee camp.
SV: man walking through camp.
SV: small child carrying wooden stool through street.
GVS: refugees sitting outside shacks.
GVS: children playing among huts, PAN TO women washing clothes. (2 shots)
GV PAN: shacks TO food stalls. (2 shots)
LVS: newspaper stall PAN TO CUS: women preparing food outside shacks. (4 shots)
CU: two small girls playing with doll in dust.
SV PAN: benches in open-walled classroom.
SV: children playing outside classroom.
GVS PAN: foundations being dug for new building. (2 shots)
SV: huts being built.
SV and CU: small child playing on bulldozer. (2 shots)
GVS PAN: refugees clearing land around camp. (3 shots)
CU: mother with baby.
Although the Pathet Lao took effective to control in Laos in May last year, it was not until December that the former monarchy of King Savang Watthana was abolished and a republic declared. Communist forces completed their takeovers in South Vietnam and Cambodia sixteen months ago.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: It is now more than 15 month since communist Pathet Lao forces took control in Laos, But despite strict security along the border, refugees are still fleeing into neighbouring Thailand.
SYNOPSIS: Most of the refugees seek shelter at camps set up by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at places along the Thai-Laos border. One is at Nogkhai on the Mekong River, a principle crossing point between the two countries. By day, there has been little activity on the once bustling Mekong since the communists took control in Laos. Only a night do the boats slip across the river, carrying refugees. Official U.N. figures set the number of entering Thailand from Laos at less than 100,000. But local estimates put the figure at two or three times higher.
The U.N. say that 7,000 people had arrived at their Nongkhai camp by August last year. A year later, the camp has a population of nearly 17,000 with another 20 to 25 arriving every day. It has been difficult for the U.N. to maintain living conditions with the number of refugees growing daily. According to doctors, most of the children have been affected by intestinal diseases caused by insanitary conditions. But things have improved greatly with the building of a healthy centre and clinic. The children also now have a new classroom for school lessons.
Work is also under way for a new refugee camp with properly constructed shelters, water supply and electricity. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees hopes the new camp will help relieve the situation at Nongkhai. But many refugees never register with the authorities and simply stay with relatives or friends in Thailand. The Thai authorities have faced major problems since communist takeovers in Indochina during 1975, as thousands of people sought refuge. The government's policy had been that refugees can only stay temporarily while finding new homes, and more than 15,000 have moved on to other countries. But people have been arriving the Thailand faster than they can be resettle. So the Untied Nations and the Thai government are faced with the problem of accommodating and feeding refugees as more arrive each day.