In Bangkok, Ambassadors from fifteen nations and representatives from international organisations have gathered to decide on guidelines and procedures for an international programme of relief for refugees along the Thai border.
In Bangkok, Ambassadors from fifteen nations and representatives from international organisations have gathered to decide on guidelines and procedures for an international programme of relief for refugees along the Thai border. Since the Pol Pot regime was topped in January thousands of Kampucheans have been pouring into Thailand.
SYNOPSIS: Those refugees who have made it across the border into Thailand paint a grim picture of a disease - and starvation-ridden homeland in which people are dying in their thousands. Estimates of the number of Kampucheans camped in areas close to the border vary from 60,000. But how many there really are is anyone's guess.
Those who struggle on through the fields and forests -- flooded in the rainy season -- are driven by their fear and hunger, and the vague hope of food on the other side of the border. Some are lucky enough to find buffalo grass, their only means of delaying an otherwise almost certain death from starvation.
And while the refugees are telling of bodies lying dead on their way to Thailand, an international conference in Bangkok has tired to organise international relief. Many western countries have so far been reluctant to sent aid to Kampuchea, since the new regime in Phnom Penh is only recognised by the Soviet bloc and Vietnam. Vast amounts of food and medical supplies are needed to counter what many have dubbed the worst famine disaster in modern times.
Thailand itself has insisted on strict neutrality and over the past has been anxious about conveying aid to Kampuchea. But after the conference a Thai government press release said the government was now prepared to support international efforts to help the Kampucheans. But it still insisted that aid should only reach civilians and not the combatants of either the Vietnam backed Phnom Penh administration or the guerrillas loyal to the ousted leader Pol Pot.