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Remembering KHAO I DANG Refugee Camp in Thailand

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, August 31, 2009 | 5:55 AM


Khao-I-Dang Khmer refugee camp was located 20 Km north of Aranyaprathet in Prachinburi (now Sakeo) province Thailand.


Khao-I-Dang was the oldest and most enduring camp on the border. It opened Nov. 21, 1979 and closed in 1992 during the UNTAC repatriation when all remaining residents were moved to Site II to await their personal repatriation.

During its peak period, 1979-1985, KID was sometimes the equivalent of Site II in population but the population was in flux and transit, some going to third countries, some only seeking shelter until they could see what the future would bring.

KID became a unique camp on the border, it was the only camp not controlled by one of the resistance factions, it was a UNHCR / Thai MOI camp, its residents were recognised as "Refugees" and were entitled to a higher level of protection, care and nutrition than people in the UNBRO administered camps (not a criticism of UNBRO, the Thais ultimately decided what UNBRO was allowed to do). KID was also the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement in third countries.

ICRC chose KID for their first border surgical hospital where acute trauma patients were cared for, this was initially war wounded but came to be dominated by landmine victims.

When I started working in KID in 1990 is was only a shadow of what it had been in terms of population. It was the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement, although by 1990 all of the remaining residents of KID had been turned down for resettlement and had little hope of being accepted by any country in the future. In many cases they had been turned down because of past activities or associations as KR, they could not go back and they could not go forward, this made for a sense of helplessness and a lethargy in the camp.

During repatriation the residents of KID were the most vocal in opposition to what they felt was a forced repatriation and held numerous demonstrations both as a group and occasionally as individuals.
KID had the most extensive coverage by programs operated by NGOs - medical, health, sanitation, education, social, vocational..... Many long term residents had been through multiple programs and were qualified health care workers, teachers and / or in some other vocation such as mechanics.

Medical - (see glossary for abbreviations)
IRC - Medical Coordination, OPD, Public Health & Training
HI - Hospital
COR - Mother Child Health clinic
ICRC - ICRC surgical hospital
Khmer Traditional Medicine

Education -
IRC - Primary, secondary, ESL, teacher training
YWAM - secondary
COR - vocational skills

Social -
IRC - Khmer Arts & Dance

Printing -
IRC - educational materials, literature, materials for NGOs, export
JSRC - literature, export

average monthly population between December 1981 and November 1982 - approximately 42,700 (ref. CDC report)
December 1982 - 40,134 (ref. CDC report)
mid-June 1983 - 57,500 (ref. CDC report)
1991 - 14,734


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