Solidarity with refugee flood victims in Mae Hong Son

03 September 2014

Young women in Camp 1 volunteering their time and working hard together to clear classrooms of debris left by the flash flooding which took place on the 27th of August, 2014.

Mae Hong Son, 3 September 2014 – Schools significantly damaged by flash-flooding in Ban Mai Nai Soi and Ban Mae Surin Camps last week are now benefiting from volunteer support.

Heavy rains followed by flash flooding and landslides in the early hours of Wednesday 27th August have killed two people and displaced one hundred and fifty four households in the Thai-Burma border refugee camps commonly known as Camp 1 and 2.  Surrounding Thai villages were also affected.

As the Sector Lead for Education in the camps, JRS has been working alongside girls and boys, their parents, community members and other humanitarian organisations, to clean up the damage and restore education opportunities to students living in the camp.

Bue Reh, Director of the Karenni Education Department (KnED), expressed his feelings about the clean up, “I am so happy and proud to see that the education family is united to help one another in this situation”.

Based on the rapid post-emergency needs assessment done on the 27th of August, JRS staff report that two primary schools, two middle schools and one special education center supported by JRS were affected by the flood in Camp 1. Out of the four schools, Primary School 1 is the worst affected with one two-classroom building totally destroyed and mud and debris covering the school compound, even blocking the plumbing.  One of the access roads to Camp 2 remained significantly blocked until the 2nd of September.  Several families who live near the river or in areas at risk of further flooding had taken shelter in primary and middle schools in Section 1 for a few days until the water subsided.

Generous volunteers in both camps have been working from as early as seven o’clock each morning, using improvised equipment and NGO vehicles to remove debris and mud from schools and access ways.  Bridge repairs and the digging of alternate channels for the flow of water back to the river are also underway.

The Karenni Education Department (KnED) and JRS discussed together and estimated the materials and funding required to repair the affected school buildings.  Both JRS and KnED were also involved in inter-agency emergency coordination meetings which allowed them to support others in meeting the needs of those who lost their homes.

JRS Thailand and Regional Offices will be doing their best to arrange emergency funding to cover educational needs and forwarding relevant information to other agencies so that emergency supplies can be found.  So far this information sharing has resulted in at least three hundred and fifty emergency kits (including blankets, mats and mosquito nets) being sourced and distributed through Save the Children International and COERR.

The JRS teacher training which started on the 25th of August in Camp 1 has had to be suspended, as were JCHEM Community Service Learning Track classes.  In Camp 2 school exams have been disrupted and the Teacher Training which was originally scheduled to take place this week has also been postponed.  It is hoped, however, that lessons will resume as soon as the facilities are suitable once more.  JRS will work in close consultation with a shelter expert from Save the Children International in an attempt to rebuild schools which are resistant to natural disasters, as much as this is possible within the imposed prohibition on the use of permanent materials in the camps.

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