CAMBODIA/THAILAND: Border dispute displaces up to 30,000

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BANGKOK, 9 February 2011 (IRIN) - NGOs working along the Thai-Cambodian border are monitoring clashes between the two countries near a disputed temple and are extremely concerned about the reported displacement of up to 30,000 people.

"We have evacuated our staff and are preparing to assist those who have fled the area," Agneta Dau Valler, country representative of Church World Service Cambodia, which has field staff living in villages in Choam Khsant District, where the disputed Preah Vihear temple is located, told IRIN.

An estimated 15,000 people on the Thai side of the border have "fled to makeshift shelters and other villages away from the range of fire," said Amnat Barlee, director of the Thai Red Cross's Relief and Community Health Bureau, while Cambodian Red Cross officials estimate the displacement of a similar number on their side of the border.

Renewed border clashes on 4 February over ownership of the 11th century Hindu temple, a 2008-registered UN World Heritage Site, were continuing on 8 February. As of 9 February, no civilians on the Cambodia side had been reported dead or injured. However, Thai media said one civilian and two soldiers had been killed. One day earlier, Thailand's official news agency, MCOT, reported 25 people injured in fighting, prompting thousands to flee their homes. Many of the displaced are unable to find adequate shelter or tents, aid officials say.