Floods hammer Karenni refugees

The heavy rain that lashed northern Thailand during previous months and the ongoing monsoon has caused destruction to roads and bridges in Karenni refugees camp No.2 and refugees are now having difficulties to travel or accessing services within the camp.

Heavy rains during early October destroyed bridges in the camp caused massive flooding and landslides. The monsoon rains broke the banks of the Mae Sariang River in Mae Hong Song province causing flooding in the camp as it is located along the river bank.

A woman member of the camp committee told Karen News that the situation is hard for the school children, the elderly and the sick.

“It is a big problem for school children and sick people. We have been closing schools since the flood started. And for the referral patients, we have to carry them around through jungle paths to get to hospital in Mae Hong Song.”

The camp committee member also pointed out that 24 houses were washed away or destroyed by landslides and residents have had to move in with neighbors or relatives.

The bridges connecting Sections 1 to 2 and 2 to 3 were destroyed, Thaw Htoo, a resident from Section 1 said that it is difficult to travel to other sections of the camp.

“Although the floodwaters have decreased, we can’t move from our section to other sections because the bridges are destroyed. It makes the situation difficult for emergency patients.”

Under normal circumstances emergency referral patients are transferred to the hospital in Mae Hong Song by trucks provided by medical NGOs, but now since the bridges were destroyed, patients have to be carried on foot for three hours to get to Waka [a Thai village], where vehicles can access.

There are two Karenni camps in Mae Hong Song province – Camp No.1 and No.2. Camp No. 2 has four sections with 3,000 residents and it includes ethic Karen, Karenni, Shan and Kachin.

Thailand’s Disaster Relief Centre reported on Sunday that the flood death toll has risen to 261 with four missing. The flooding has affected 2.3 million people in 10,130 villages of 223 districts in the 30 provinces.

The first flooding occurred in Camp No.2 in September when houses where destroyed and swept away by landslides and floodwater.

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