Places Known For

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Nong Samet Refugee Camp

infantry captain in the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK) 7th Division who rallied several hundred soldiers from that unit and on October 5 established the Angkor National Liberation Movement (also referred to as ''Khmer Angkor''). Burgess, John, "Largest 'City' of Cambodians Shelters Refugees, Rebels," ''The Washington Post'', Nov 4, 1979 p. A15. In December 1979, In-Sakhan, another former officer from FANK who had been living on the border since 1975, declared himself leader of Nong Samet. He quickly realized that the size of the camp's civilian population would determine his power base, and encouraged a thriving border marketplace from which smugglers brought high-demand commodities into deprived Kampuchea. Burgess, J. "Cambodian Trade Sparks Boom at Thai Border", ''Washington Post'', August 17, 1979, p. A19. Within a short time Nong Samet's market attracted thousands of traders and black marketeers, and the guides and guards needed to transport goods and cash in this nearly lawless region. Gold and precious stones often substituted for currency on the border, and In-Sakhan's soldiers frequently served as security escorts. In-Sakhan initially reported to International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that the camp's population was at least 200,000 and aid agencies provided food and water for 180,000 people until December 1979 when aid workers heard that much of the food was being hoarded by the warlord. UNICEF Monitoring Report, 6 March 1980. At this time the situation on the border was still too chaotic to do a proper census or to challenge In-Sakhan. Rivalry with neighboring camps thumb right Map of Thai Border Refugee Camps, with roads and nearby Thai communities, distributed to aid workers by the American Refugee Committee (File:Map of Thai Border Refugee Camps, 1984.jpg) in May 1984. Rivalry with neighboring camps Nong Chan and Mak Mun led to frequent armed violence. In-Sakhan also had to defend the camp against the Khmer Rouge, who launched an attack on January 4, 1980 from nearby Phnom Chat. Durant, Thomas S., "Attack on 007 (Nong Samet), January 4, 1980," in ''Years of Horror, Days of Hope'', B.S. Levy and D.C. Susott, eds., 1986, 137-40 The camp was evacuated but the refugees quickly returned. In late January 1980, ICRC and UNICEF attempted to bypass In-Sakhan and distribute food directly to Nong Samet's population (which they now estimated at roughly 60,000), however without the warlord's cooperation this proved nearly impossible. Mason and Brown, p. 68. In addition, it appeared that many Nong Samet residents were forced to go to Nong Chan to receive food because their rations were being confiscated by In-Sakhan's troops. Accordingly, in late February 1980 aid agencies stopped distributing food in Nong Samet altogether. Two weeks later, UNICEF conducted a nutrition survey and found widespread levels of malnutrition, stunting (Stunted growth) and hunger in the camp population. ICRC decided to try direct distribution to locked warehouses inside the camp, and to allow section leaders to distribute rice to the population. A crude "hut census" of the camp was attempted, but an attack on Mak Mun Camp in late March forced several thousand refugees to flee to Nong Samet, invalidating the census. Two days later, forces commanded by the Mak Mun warlord, Van Saren, attacked Nong Samet in retaliation. In a counterattack on March 22, Van Saren was killed, possibly by the Thai military (Royal Thai Army), and Mak Mun was closed on April 11 by the Thai government (Royal Thai Government) in an attempt to consolidate the population, most of which had already relocated to Nong Chan and Nong Samet. UNICEF Monitoring Report, 6 March 1980, p. 57. In late May 1980 Nong Samet was moved to a site adjacent to the Prasaht Sdok Kok Thom, in an area with poor drainage and landmines left over from a previous conflict. Blagden, P., "The Sdok Kok Thom Integrated Demining Project," ''Journal of Mine Action'', Issue 8.1, June 2004, p. 54; Mason and Brown also mention this on p. 73. Incorporation into the KPNLF thumb right Map of Nong Samet Refugee Camp and the neighboring village of Ban Nong Samet, distributed to aid workers by the American Refugee Committee (File:Nong Samet Map small 1984.jpg) in 1984.On July 12, 1980, troops commanded by Ung Chan Don, In-Sakhan's former ally, attacked Nong Samet and drove In-Sakhan to Aranyaprathet, where "on a calm Sunday evening, In-Sakhan surrendered to the Thai Third Infantry Battalion." Stone and McGowan, p. 22. He later joined Prince Norodom Sihanouk's Armée Nationale Sihanoukiste (Military history of Cambodia#Arm.C3.A9e_Nationale_Sihanoukiste) (ANS) forces. Corfield J. J. "A History of the Cambodian Non-Communist Resistance, 1975-1983." Clayton, Vic., Australia: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1991, p. 12. In-Sakhan was replaced by Om Luot (also known as Ta Luot or Siem Sam On) Bekaert, J., "Kampuchea: The Year of the Nationalists?" ''Southeast Asian Affairs'', Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore (1983), pp. 169. with Thou Thon acting as civilian administrator. Om Luot had declared his loyalty to the KPNLF in February 1979, but tensions with General Dien Del and General Sak Sutsakhan eventually led to Om Luot's murder on October 11, 1982. Bekaert, 1983, p. 169. After this, Thou Thon became chief administrator of the camp. Nong Samet Camp soon became a primary recruiting location for Khmer People's National Liberation Armed Forces troops. Radu M, Arnold A. ''The New Insurgencies: Anticommunist Guerrillas in the Third World''. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1990, p. 31. Thou Thon's leadership Thou Thon was a model of strong yet considerate civilian leadership at a time when warlords controlled most of the border refugee population. According to Linda Mason and Roger Brown, who knew him in 1980: :“The Khmer refugees in Nong Samet Camp owed much to him. He had organized the camp—building roads, digging ditches, cleaning up. He had eliminated much of the thievery that had kept the refugees nervous and frightened. He had helped organize an efficient distribution system so that everyone received rice… He was a hard worker… When he had organized the building of the feeding center, he did not just tell people what to do, he climbed up on the roof and started nailing down the lattice work on which the thatch would be placed. When ditches were dug, he was there with a hoe." Mason and Brown, P. 190. Thou Thon’s brother Colonel Thou Thip had co-founded the KPNLF in Paris in 1978, together with Son Sann and Dien Del among others. Thou Thon also had a brother and a sister in New Zealand but he refused to accept their sponsorship offers. Unlike Thou Thip, Thou Thon maintained at best only a lukewarm relationship with Son Sann. Crossette B. "After the killing fields: Cambodia's forgotten refugees." ''New York Times Magazine'', 1988;26:17-68. In 1983, at a time when Nong Samet was being terrorized nightly by violent acts of banditry, local policing was so ineffective that the bandits could brag about their exploits in the marketplace. Finally, after a particularly blatant act of violence, three bandits who had identified themselves in the market the day before were found with their throats cut at the edge of the camp. Banditry decreased significantly in camp after this. Thou Thon thus demonstrated his willingness to use summary execution as a means of maintaining order. This sent a message to the camp population as much as it did to would-be bandits, that security was a priority and that it would be enforced. French LC. ''Enduring Holocaust, Surviving History: Displaced Cambodians on the Thai-Camobodian Border, 1989-1991.'' Harvard University, 1994, pp. 176-77. Thou Thon continued to administer Nong Samet after the camp was incorporated into Site Two (Site Two Refugee Camp) in 1985. Camp relocation in 1983 The entire camp was moved again in January 1983 to somewhat higher ground just east of the village of Ban Nong Samet, on land considered to be on the Cambodian side of the border. This move was precipitated by accusations that Thailand was harboring anti-communist guerrillas on its territory, thereby aggravating the already complex political situation. Robinson C. ''Terms of refuge: the Indochinese exodus & the international response''. London ; New York, New York: Zed Books; Distributed in the USA exclusively by St. Martin's Press, 1998, p. 75. Camp population 350px thumb right Cambodian medic (File:Sovann & Sarin.JPG)s trained by ARC at Nong Samet Refugee Camp, May 1984.Nong Samet's official population estimate in 1979 was over 100,000, a figure that William Shawcross Shawcross W. ''The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience''. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 241. gives credence to, but Mason and Brown calculate that it probably fluctuated between 48,000 Mason and Brown, p. 89. and 60,000. Mason and Brown, p. 71. The American Refugee Committee's 1983 Annual Report numbered the population at "between 45,000 and 70,000," based on food distribution statistics, immunization records, and birth and death tallies, Mastro, T., "Nong Samet 1983 Annual Report," American Refugee Committee, Minneapolis, 1984, p. 1. however this did not include KPNLF troops, who were exempt from aid, and may have constituted an additional 8,000 men. Vietnamese refugees at NW82 thumb right 250px Typical refugee homes at Nong Samet, May 1984. (File:Houses in Nong Samet.jpg)As of December 18, 1981, Nong Samet became home to about 700 Vietnamese refugees who were transferred from a special camp for "land refugees" who had crossed Cambodia from Vietnam and entered Thailand. They had been transferred from the nearby camp of NW9 and were housed in a separate section known as NW82 or ‘the platform’ because of a wooden platform built to keep the population off the swampy ground. By September 1982 there were more than 1,800 refugees in the crowded and unsanitary camp. Initially Thailand prevented foreign embassies from interviewing these refugees, however after repeated requests by the ICRC, this policy was reversed. The Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (International Organization for Migration) conducted preliminary screening of the 1,804 NW82 Vietnamese and coordinated efforts of the 15 countries willing to offer resettlement to the refugees. By January 28, 1983, when the first round of processing was completed, 1,713 of the refugees had received resettlement offers. The United States accepted just over 60 percent. "Problems In Processing Vietnamese Refugees From The Dong Rek Camp Cambodia," ''US General Accounting Office'', GAOINSIAD-85-132, Aug 16,1986, p. 22. On February 9, 1983, NW82 was closed, and the remaining 122 occupants without resettlement offers were transferred temporarily to the Khao-I-Dang Holding Center. Camp services thumb right 340px The American Refugee Committee (File:Nong Samet Outpatient Dept 1.jpg)'s Outpatient Dept. 1, Nong Samet, May 1984.Food distribution problems had been resolved by the aid agencies in 1980 and Nong Samet became a model camp for its organization and the quality of its health care services, which included a tuberculosis treatment program, established in spite of claims that the situation was still too unstable to permit long-term treatment. Miles SH, Maat RB. "A Successful Supervised Outpatient Short-course Tuberculosis Treatment Program in an Open Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian Border." ''Am Rev Respir Dis'' 1984;130(5):827-30. A 100-bed hospital with pediatrics, maternity and surgical facilities and two outpatient clinics were operated by the American Refugee Committee, which trained 150 Khmer medics, midwives, pharmacists and nurses. ARC also operated a traditional medicine clinic. ARC 1983 Annual Report, pp. 4-8. Food and some water were provided by the World Food Program under the supervision of the United Nations Border Relief Operation (UNBRO). Deep wells also provided potable water for much of the camp. Other services fluctuated over the years, but in September 1983 supplementary feeding was being handled by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), sanitation and maternal-child health by World Concern, physical rehabilitation by Handicap International, and security by UNBRO. CRS also operated a mobile dental team and the Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) provided a weekly X-ray service. Committee for the Coordination of Displaced Persons in Thailand. ''The CCSDPT handbook: Refugee Services in Thailand''. Bangkok: Craftsman Press, 1983, p. 49. Personal recollections from aid workers thumb right The "Old Temple", Prasaht Sdok Kok Thom (File:Sdok Kok Thom 1984.jpg) just outside Nong Samet Refugee Camp, where refugee monks provided religious services to camp residents, May 1984. Several aid workers have described their experiences at Nong Samet Camp, including Dr. Louis Braile: :"There was really a palpable difference between Nong Samet and KID (Khao-I-Dang Holding Center). Perhaps it arose from the wilderness atmosphere. Perhaps it was the presence of the ancient ruins, or perhaps it was the fact that these people, unlike the KID residents, had little hope of expatriating (expatriate)." Braile, L. E. (2005). ''We shared the peeled orange: the letters of "Papa Louis" from the Thai-Cambodian Border Refugee Camps, 1981-1993''. Saint Paul, Syren Book Co. 2005, p. 25. Dr. Steven H. Miles, Medical Director for the American Refugee Committee, wrote: :"Relief at the end of the Khmer Rouge has been replaced by fear of the present. There is a hard hopelessness here, much more so than in the past. Escape is not possible. Violence and corruption are pervasive. War is certain. Fear, a sense of extreme vulnerability, is the omnipresent emotion. My experience of Nong Samet in 1983 was overwhelmingly, searingly sad." Miles, S.H., ''Samet Field Evaluation'', American Refugee Committee, internal document, Minneapolis MN, 1983, p. 2. Robert C. Porter Jr. of the US Embassy in Bangkok (Embassy of the United States, Bangkok) wrote: :"The Khmer (Khmer people) camp at Nong Samet...always held the most exotic fascination and excitement for me.... A tall forest provided welcome shade. The stone ruins of an old Angkor-style Buddhist temple gave it a particularly Khmer air. While its early military leadership was among the more corrupt, disruptive and despicable, the camp was unusually well organized and tightly run.... It had an interesting population and a lively market. For a time in 1979 and 1980 it was the most populous Cambodian city on earth, far surpassing the then reawakening but still tiny Phnom Penh." Porter, R. C., "A Perspective on the Start of the Relief Operation", in Levy and Susott, pp. 19-20. The Vietnamese dry-season offensive of 1984 (As of January 1983) Category:Refugee camps in Thailand Category:Humanitarian aid Category:History of Cambodia Category:History of Thailand Category:Cambodia–Vietnam relations Category:Cambodia–Thailand border Category:1979 establishments in Thailand Category:1984 disestablishments in Thailand *Palestine refugee camps (opened 1948) *Camps on the Thai-Cambodian border between 1979 and 1993: Nong Samet (Nong Samet Refugee Camp), Nong Chan (Nong Chan Refugee Camp), Sa Kaeo (Sa Kaeo Refugee Camp), Site Two (Site Two Refugee Camp), Khao-I-Dang * Philippine Refugee Processing Center for Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees fleeing wars in Indochina. • 155,000 Cambodians in nine camps in the border's Central sector stretching from Ban Sangae to Tap Prik. In five camps in the Central (or Northwestern) sector (Ban Sangae, Kok Tahan, Phnom Chat, Nong Samet (Nong Samet Refugee Camp) and Nong Chan (Nong Chan Refugee Camp)) UNBRO was permitted to carry out frequent headcounts and direct distribution of food. UNBRO also distributed food in two of the Khmer Rouge camps to the south of Aranyaprathet (Nong Prue and Tap Prik) although initially it was not permitted to carry out headcounts. The Central sector also included NW82 (Nong Samet Refugee Camp#Vietnamese refugees at NW82), a subcamp located at Nong Samet housing 800 Vietnamese land refugees assisted by ICRC. One of ARC's first programs opened at Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in Thailand in late 1979. Louis Braile, ''We Shared the Peeled Orange: the letters of "Papa Louis" from the Thai-Cambodian Border Refugee Camps, 1981-1993.'' Saint Paul, Syren Book Co., 2005. ARC also provided medical and public health services (Nong Samet Refugee Camp#Camp_services) at Nong Samet Refugee Camp, ARC 1983 Annual Report, pp. 4-8. Phanat Nikhom, Committee for the Coordination of Displaced Persons in Thailand. ''The CCSDPT handbook: Refugee Services in Thailand.'' Bangkok: Craftsman Press, 1983, p. 49. Ban Vinai CCSDPT, p. 51. and Site Two Refugee Camp until 1993, when the camps closed and ARC turned its attention to programs inside Cambodia. ARC later provided health, sanitation and laboratory services at Khao Phlu Refugee Camp from 1997 until 1999. Virginia Morrison, "Contraceptive Need Among Cambodian Refugees in Khao Phlu Camp," International Family Planning Perspectives Volume 26, Number 4, December 2000, 188-192. ARC pioneered the treatment of tuberculosis in refugee-camp settings using an innovative program structure that other international agencies had argued was not feasible. Miles SH, Maat RB. "A Successful Supervised Outpatient Short-course Tuberculosis Treatment Program in an Open Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian Border." ''Am Rev Respir Dis'' 1984;130(5):827-30. Maat R.B. "The Major Disruption at Samet, Christmas, 1984." Occasional Paper No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Jesuit Refugee Service, 1985.


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