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Thailand: helping migrant families deal with the floods

By Apple Chaimontree, Emergency Programme Manager for Save the Children’s Thailand Programme

“Since the flood, we haven’t got any rice in our tin. We don’t have drinking water. We have to wait for the relief,” said Ma Yu Khaing, a 32-year-old mother-of-five, when we visited her during our flood relief distribution in Mae Sot district.

That’s the reality for many vulnerable migrant families who have been displaced or put out of work by the floods along the Thai-Myanmar border.

The floods, triggered by heavy rains from 25 July, affected 90 villages in ten sub-districts, and reached up to two metres. Markets were closed, and running water and electricity stopped in some areas.

Ma Yu Khaing and her children

A struggle to bounce back

Mae Sot is an area where many migrant families from Myanmar live, mostly for economic reasons: there are factories there.

These people are poor, and they don’t often have floods on this scale: they find it hard to cope.

To make matters worse, flood-affected migrants usually receive less support from Thai local authorities than citizens do, so they struggle to bounce back quickly from a natural disaster.

Taking immediate action

Save the Children immediately launched an action in response to the flooding.

About 3,500 migrants, including children, who were affected by the floods have been staying in evacuation sites or are cut off from other communities in Mae Sot.

Our main concern was the increased risk of illness and spread of disease. To improve levels of hygiene, we gave out relief packages including toiletries, hand sanitiser, towels and sanitary napkins.

Reaching the worst affected families

After conversations with children and their families about their needs, we now plan to distribute household cleaning items, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets and drinking water to the worst affected families.

We will also help schools to reopen as soon as possible, by refurbishing them and providing teaching and learning materials.

Prioritising the protection of children

The protection of children is always our first concern, and Save the Children Thailand works with local partners during emergencies like this one to ensure the affected children are kept safe.

We are focusing our efforts on refugees and those in transit in Thailand, including supporting education, child protection and livelihoods in the nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.

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