Thailand: thousands of flood-affected people still in need of basic assistance

13-10-2011 Operational Update

Thailand's worst floods in decades have left millions of acres of land under water. Some 60 of the country's 77 provinces, and some eight million people, have so far been affected. People held in places of detention have not been spared.

Since the beginning of the month, the ICRC and the Thai Red Cross Society have been mobilizing staff and goods to help those hardest hit.

The Thai Red Cross has provided 5,000 hot meals a day for flood victims in Chai Nat province and in Ayutthaya since September.

Since 11 October, the Thai Red Cross has been operating an additional mobile kitchen with ICRC support in the flood-stricken province of Ayutthaya. The kitchen is providing a further 3,000 people with one hot meal a day.

Working together with the Thai Red Cross, the ICRC has provided emergency relief items (flashlights, candles and enough food to feed a family for three days) for 100 families in Tak province. In addition, the ICRC distributed clothing to 150 elderly people evacuated from their flooded homes who are sheltering in Thamaidang Primary School, in Tak province.

Major activities carried out in places of detention in Thailand and Cambodia

Over the past few days, at the request of the Department of Corrections, the ICRC has been assisting around 14,000 detainees stranded by the rising waters.

"Floodwaters from the north are now reaching the outskirts of Bangkok," said Bjorn Rahm, the ICRC delegate in charge of visits to detainees. "More prisons are being flooded. Even though thousands of detainees have been taken to higher ground, basic humanitarian assistance is still needed in many places of detention."

"No one can know how bad the flooding is going to be in the coming days," said Mr Rahm. "That is why we will carry on with our assistance efforts this week. In Nakhon Sawan Central Prison, Uthai Thani Provincial Prison and Ang Thong Provincial Prison, we will provide enough dry food and tins of sardines to prepare two meals a day for five days for the 3,300 detainees and 150 prison staff."

The ICRC will be working closely with the Department of Corrections so as to be able to continue to help meet the most urgent needs of the prisoners affected by the ongoing floods.

Since 7 October, the ICRC has provided urgently needed dry food and drinking water for around 8,000 detainees evacuated from Ayutthaya, about 100 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Because weather conditions are deteriorating, flood victims need blankets to protect themselves against dampness and falling temperatures. At the request of the Department of Corrections, the ICRC made 2,000 blankets available to detainees evacuated from Ayutthaya to the Patum Thani prison for young offenders, north of Bangkok.

In addition, a thousand sand bags were given to the Patum Thani prison for drug offenders to help prevent flooding of the facilities.

The floods are also affecting neighbouring Cambodia. Since last week, the ICRC has provided the Siem Reap prison with 5,000 sandbags, 50 tarpaulins and 1,700 litres of diesel fuel – enough to run the prison's water pumps for about two weeks. The prison nurse was also supplied with medications against diarrhoea, the common cold and skin infections for the treatment of sick prisoners.

ICRC delegates have been visiting detainees in Thailand since 2004, and in Cambodia for almost 20 years. The visits aim to ensure that the detainees, whatever the reason for which they are being held, are treated with dignity and humanity. The ICRC also supports the authorities in their efforts to improve the conditions of detention.

For further information, please contact:

Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02
Stéphanie Bouaziz, ICRC Bangkok, tel: (+66) 81 950 1270