Thousands caught in fallout from deadly fighting over disputed Cambodian territory.

THAILAND – Churches and schools are prepared to provide any long-term assistance to people displaced by recent deadly border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia, a local bishop said.

“We have a policy that all Catholic organisations are ready to provide support to affected people immediately” as there was no way to know when fighting might resume, said Bishop Banchong Chaiyara of Ubon Ratchathani.

Local media report that after 3,000 affected people returned home, they could still hear firing so some of them turned back or stayed at a nearby temple.

Fr Anucha Chaopraeknoi, chaplain of the volunteer group of the Catholic Commission for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR), said “COERR is coordinating with Ubon Ratchathani diocese and churches in the area. If the situation worsens again, women’s groups in the churches nearby will immediately help them with cooking, while COERR will provide funds.”
Suwan Laothathit of the volunteer group said they visited Ban Tha Sawang school, some 10 kilometres on the Thai side of the border and cooked for the displaced families, who he said have to live in tents in very hot conditions.

Boonnithi Namboon from Ubon Ratchathani diocese said they distributed basic supplies and blankets to 3,000 affected persons at the school

The Thai government announced Feb 12 that the situation had improved so all villagers were to return home, but many are still frightened and concerned about their security, said Suwan. Fighting had ceased but the problem was not yet solved, he added, and villagers remain ready to flee again at a moment’s notice.

Above: Bishop Banchong Chaiyara with some displaced people in Si Saket province (Photo courtesy of COERR)

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