In Thailand, the fighting along the border with Cambodia has died down after almost three years of violence.
In Thailand, the fighting along the border with Cambodia has died down after almost three years of violence. This has come about as the Cambodian Deputy-Premier Ieng Sary prepared to visit Thailand for talks with the Thai government. Mr Sary was due to arrive in the Thai capital, Bangkok, on Friday (14 July) to discuss the border clashes which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Thai villagers and police since the 1975 Communist take-over of Cambodia.
SYNOPSIS: Many of the villagers living in this area near the Cambodian border have abandoned their land and homes and moved to the comparative safety of nearby towns. Schools have closed and few farmers have stayed to risk the chance of being caught in a Cambodian ambush. The recent lull in the fighting has met with a quick response on the Thai side of the border. All barricades and defence have been removed from the line as a goodwill gesture in the hope that Mr Sary's visit will resolve the border dispute.
Aranyprathet is only five kilometres from the border, and is the site of a large Cambodian refugee camp. Over six thousand refugees have been settled here and only a very small number of them can expect to be relocated abroad. 49 are due to go to the United States and Australia and 104 are to be allowed??? into France.
For the rest there is little to do and apart from carving stone and wood ornaments, most of the men are unemployed.
There are now over fourteen thousand Cambodian refugees living in settlement camps in Thailand. The Thai government established the refugee centres to cope with the flood of displaced people from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia who have been pouring into Thailand??? during the past three years.
Aranyaprathet was once a prosperous trade centre but the fighting has closed the border and the commercial life of the town now revolves around the food market. Earlier this year the area came under rocket attack from outlawed Thai Communists and Cambodian Khmer Rouge forces over the border.
Medical facilities in The Aranyaprathet refugee camp are limited. The Thai government receives financial help from international agencies including the Red Cross and the United Nations Refugee Commission. But despite this support, there is only enough money to provide 17 hospital beds in the camp. Children of the Cambodian refugees receive full-time schooling in the camp.
The visit of Mr Sary is reportedly designed to deal with the growing problem of the refugees as well as the border fighting. In February this year, the Thai Foreign Minister Upadit Pachariyangkun went to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia for talks but that meeting did little towards stopping the fighting.