Fighting along the Thailand-Cambodia border has displaced tens of thousands of people. With funding from CRS and other groups, Caritas Cambodia is providing relief supplies to over 7000 families. Here, Caritas does a rapid assessment of what the displaced people most need. By Caritas Cambodia

By Laura Sheahen, CRS

As fighting on the border between Thailand and Cambodia continues, Caritas Cambodia together with the support of Caritas member Catholic Relief Services is aiding thousands of families who had to flee shelling.

“Many families who left their homes are living in schools and pagodas, and the conditions there are very poor,” says Lionel Lajous, CRS’ Regional Technical Advisor for emergencies in Asia. “We’re working with the government to get them into camps where we can better provide for their needs.”

With CRS support, Caritas began helping the first wave of displaced people in February 2011. Caritas has intensified its efforts in the wake of this week’s fighting, and will provide rice, tents, and clean water in the camps.

“The rainy season is starting here, and there can be heavy downpours,” says Greg Auberry, who is Country Representative for CRS in Southeast Asia and is based in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. “The tents will provide better protection than, say, plastic sheeting, and will also help fight mosquitoes.”

Caritas is also helping families in the camps access medical care and training them to practice good hygiene. “We want to avoid outbreaks of illness,” says Auberry.

“What our Caritas partners are hearing is that this situation continues to deteriorate,” he continues. “These families may not be able to go home for some time, and they are going to need our help.”