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Thailand: JRS response to the flood
08 November 2011

Wanrob Wararasdr, JRS Urban Refugee Programme (URP) staff member and Rufino Seva, URP project director help navigate a raft carrying food and supplies to flood-affected areas. (Zarah Alih/JRS Thailand)
The store looked like it had been ransacked. There was nothing there for them to buy – no noodles, sardines, rice, eggs, or milk powder, said Rufino Seva, JRS Urban Refugee Programme Director in Thailand.
Bangkok, 8 November 2011 – As rising floodwaters threaten the only remaining road into Bangkok, displaced persons and refugees in the surrounding communities struggle to find food and supplies for the days ahead.

Thailand has been experiencing its worst flooding in decades. Two weeks ago the water hit Bangkok, and while much of the city remains dry, many suburban areas are underwater. As a result, many of the persons JRS serves cannot leave Bangkok, and the organisation is trying to locate and assist those who remain in the city.

For transportation many are relying on privately owned trucks that civilians have volunteered for public use. The trucks are now only able to use one road, the Rama II, to reach Bangkok. Unfortunately, Rama II is expected to flood in the coming days, isolating Bangkok and its residents from the rest of the country.

Food security is a primary concern for those left in the city and surrounding areas. Although JRS has been able to acquire a limited emergency supply of food, empty grocery store shelves are a signal of a much larger problem. The challenge of keeping food and supplies in stock will only become more difficult as the threat of flooding increases.

The most vulnerable

Already living in vulnerable circumstances, displaced families and refugees are hit particularly hard by the effects of natural disasters.

In the home of one group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers living in Petkasem, western Bangkok, the flooding had already risen to waist level when they called JRS. After they had run out of food and water, they braved the floods to get to the Bangkok Refugee Centre (BRC) in one of the trucks still able to service persons affected by the flooding.

"We have to come to get support for the sake of our children, even if it's dangerous", one group member said.

The BRC was able to provide the family with temporary financial support, and Urban Refugee Programme Director Rufino Seva accompanied them to the grocery store in the hopes of restocking their supplies.

"The store looked like it had been ransacked. There was nothing there for them to buy – no noodles, sardines, rice, eggs, or milk powder," said Seva.

In an attempt to spare the group a six hour truck journey, JRS personnel began a search for safe routes, functional roads not crammed with cars, and police able to direct traffic. After several hours they arrived home, to share what they had managed to find with the 14 other family members in their care, including a 10-month old baby.

Please assist in our flood relief efforts by donating to JRS here, or contact our regional director to find ways to help.

Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
+39 06 6897 7465