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As Floods Drag on in Thailand, Displaced Grow Restless

A man rows his passenger on a boat past the shadow of the flooded Chatkaew Chongkolnee temple in Bangkok, Thailand, November 1, 2011.
A man rows his passenger on a boat past the shadow of the flooded Chatkaew Chongkolnee temple in Bangkok, Thailand, November 1, 2011.

In Thailand, local aid groups are calling on authorities to better manage and support local communities that are struggling to cope after spending weeks under a meter or more of water.

As the flood waters overtake more communities in urban areas of the country, there are many who are deciding to stay home and protect their belongings from thieves.

Srisuwan Kuanachorn from the Foundation for Ecological Recovery (FER) says many people are resisting even forced evacuations, braving the increasingly stagnant and polluted flood waters to stay near home. He says the government needs to reach out to these people to help disperse aid and help the stranded.

Related report from Daniel Schearf:

“The relief effort is being undertaken without sufficient involvement of the victims of the affected communities. We believe that, although not all but many of those affected communities do have the capacity to help themselves. They would need some external support, but many of them have demonstrated a certain capacity in the province of trying to tackle this flood situation,” Srisuwan Kuanachorn said.

Two thirds of Thailand's provinces have been hit by floods, but central Thailand has been a key venue for many evacuated flood victims.

Parita Promlert, president of the Red Cross Society in Lop Buri province, which is 150 kilometers north of Bangkok and now one of the hardest hit regions, says up to 30,000 people are in evacuation centers in the province.

Parita says the crowded conditions are raising health concerns, especially among the physically vulnerable.  Thailand’s wet monsoon season is now ending with the weather changing to the cooler dry season of the northern winter.  

“Many people in one place. So there are concerns about children and the elderly. Because they evacuate from Bangkok and Pathum Thani because they have children, so many family, almost everybody have children. But the people still want to go to their house. Many people of Lop Buri want to stay near their homes so they stay on the road. But the people from Pathum Thani and Bangkok they live in the camp," Promlert said.

In Bangkok, Father Joe Maier, a Catholic priest from the slum community of Klong Toey near the main port, says older children in evacuation centers are eager to return home, despite the continuing floods. “The people are getting more and more restless and they want to go home no matter what. Then, especially in areas where the thieves are, where’s there theft, yeah, we’re going to have real problems and I don‘t think anybody is prepared for this,” he said.

While the government says the flood conditions around Bangkok may ease over the next week, other analysts say it will be weeks before the floods fully recede.

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