CTF THAILAND FLOOD RELIEF OPERATION
BANGKOK – Since August, Thailand has experienced unprecedented heavy monsoon rains–the worst in five decades–that flooded most of the north, northeast and central part of Thailand. To date, more than 2.3 million people have been affected, with 283 confirmed dead. At least 3.8 million acres of farmland have been inundated and over a thousand industries ceased operations.
CTF Thailand, through Fr. Rocco Pairat MI, the CTF local coordinator and the executive secretary of Caritas Thailand and of the province itself, have joined efforts to help the flood victims in the periphery of Bangkok (Latkrabang) and the provinces of Ayuthayyah, Uthai Thani and Nakon Sawan. Fr. Aris Miranda MI, CTF International Coordinator has also joined them on these occasions of relief distribution. Caritas is the lead team together with the various Catholic socio-pastoral desks of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Thailand (CBCT) namely, COERR, NCCM, and SDO. The operation is focusing on the distribution of survival kits which contains rice, dry goods, basic medicines, water, and life vests for the community rescue team. A total of 3000 packs were distributed to the families in 22 villages of Nakon Sawan and Uthai Thani. These areas were identified as among the 7 worst hit provinces.
During the visit, our CTF contingent took the opportunity to perform a preliminary assessment of the needs of the population that could be addressed in a medical relief operation which the local CTF Thailand is planning to hold at the beginning of November. In the meantime, a community survey was performed by the local CTF together with the provincial superior in the nearby Muslim and Buddhist communities of Latkrabang (the seat of the provincial administration). More than two hundred (200) families were identified as beneficiaries for the relief distribution on Friday.
Most of the victims were primarily distressed and traumatized by the recent flood. According to the latest health situation report, there were about 90,000 victims suffering from shock and stress-related syndrome. Psychosocial intervention is being requested at this time to prevent mental health problems. They say that they never had an experience like this since 50 years ago!
The locations mentioned above are primarily a convergence zone of the 4 rivers that flow through Thailand from the North. Over a hundred thousand workers were left jobless as more than 1,000 companies have closed down their operations since last week. The migrant Burmese population was also severely affected, since most of them are factory workers. Many are left with no other option but to return to their home country, while some of them remain at the border.
As more floods threaten to come in the next few days, due to an increase of volume of water in the 4 major rivers, particularly Chao Phraya, the city of Bangkok remains on high alert. Disease and sickness are expected to surge in the coming days, as the evacuation centers are heavily congested. Many places in Central Thailand are submerged with water about 1.5 meters deep. In Nakon Sawan, the people are not allowed to stay in their homes during the night, to avoid the risk of further casualties. The place has been put under military control.
CTF Thailand is continuing its efforts as well in making more assessments in various places while helping in the distribution of the relief goods.
by Aris Miranda, MI