Thailand's government has declared part of the troubled Thai-Kampuchean border a "safe haven" for more than 200 thousand Kampuchean refugees.
Thailand's government has declared part of the troubled Thai-Kampuchean border a "safe haven" for more than 200 thousand Kampuchean refugees. The haven is near the Thai border village of Nonmarkmoon, 270 kilometres (170 miles) east of Bangkok. It is to be policed by United Nations officials and will be supplied with relief aid from international agencies.
SYNOPSIS: These refugees are near the end of a long trek from their villages to the camp controlled by the Rightist Khmer Serei of 'Free Khmer' soldiers. They come to search for food from international aid agencies across the border in Thailand.
Some have ox-drawn carts for the journey which can take days and often weeks. Many thousand Kampucheans arrive each day for handouts of rice and maize. But even supplies like this rice from the International Red Cross are in doubt. The Thai military authorities planned to cut off deliveries unless the Khmer Serei leaders lifted their ban on allowing refugees into Thailand. International agencies have been supplying some 300-tonnes of food each day to the sprawling make-shift village.
But it is children like these who would be hit hardest if the supplies stop. The Khmer Serei soldiers fear that if the refugees move away from their camp they might be deprived of their people's support, and supplies of such necessities as clean water. The Thai Defence Minister, General Prem, said the practice of distributing the aid to refugees through their leaders would be re-arranged because some provisions were not reaching the civilians, but relief agencies say aid should not be cut off for humanitarian reasons. However, some of the refugees allege that provisions have been trucked from Kampuchea into Vietnam by the Vietnamese. One refugee claimed he saw such an operation when he was in Phnom Penh.
The Khmer Serei camp is a shanty town, but some refugees do not want to leave. Many are waiting for relatives to join them from deeper inside Kampuchea, before crossing into Thailand.