Thai / Cambodia Border Refugee Camps 1975-1999

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Cambodian Refugee Camp Khao-I-Dang

Khao-I-Dang Khmer refugee camp was located 20 Km north of Aranyaprathet in Prachinburi (now Sakeo) province Thailand. 

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Entering Khao I Dang 1990

Photos by Richard Rowat

Handicapped International hospital in Khao I Dang Cambodian refugee camp (73632 bytes)

Khmer Dance in Khao I Dang Cambodian refugee camp (82794 bytes)

International Rescue Committee IRC printing soccer team in Khao I Dang Khmer refugee camp (35743 bytes)

khao i dang Khmer refugee camp (83980 bytes)

Handicap International

 Khmer Arts

KID IRC Printing Soccer team 1990

Unused structures in KID 1990
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Christian Outreach Dental Clinic

KID IRC Printing

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More photos of Khao I Dang courtesy of 

Chhan Touch

SAWS hospital

(photo by Roger Eitel)

KID living huts 1980

(photo by Roger Eitel)

Refugees from the border arrive in KID 1980

(photo by Roger Eitel)



Khao-I-Dang was the oldest and most enduring camp on the border. It opened Nov. 21, 1979 and closed in 1992 during the UNTAC repatriation when all remaining residents were moved to Site II to await their personal repatriation.

During its peak period, 1979-1985, Khao I Dang was sometimes the equivalent of Site II / 2 in population but the population was in flux and transit, some going to third countries, some only seeking shelter until they could see what the future would bring.

KID became a unique camp on the border, it was the only camp not controlled by one of the resistance factions, it was a UNHCR / Thai Ministry Of Interior camp, its residents were recognised as "Refugees" and were entitled to a higher level of protection, care and nutrition than people in the UNBRO administered camps (not a criticism of UNBRO, the Thais ultimately decided what UNBRO was allowed to do). Khao I Dang was also the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement in third countries.


ICRC chose Khao I Dang for their first border surgical hospital where acute trauma patients were cared for, this was initially war wounded but came to be dominated by landmine victims.


When I started working in Khao I Dang in 1990 it was only a shadow of what it had been in terms of population. It was the only camp whose residents were eligible for resettlement, although by 1990 all of the remaining residents of KID had been turned down for resettlement and had little hope of being accepted by any country in the future. In many cases they had been turned down because of past activities or associations with the Khmer Rouge, they could not go back and they could not go forward, this made for a sense of helplessness and a lethargy in the camp.


During repatriation the residents of Khao I Dang were the most vocal in opposition to what they felt was a forced repatriation and held numerous demonstrations both as a group and occasionally as individuals.



Khao I Dang had the most extensive coverage by programs operated by NGOs - medical, health, sanitation, education, social, vocational..... Many long term residents had been through multiple programs and were qualified health care workers, teachers and / or in some other vocation such as mechanics.


Medical - (see glossary for abbreviations)

IRC (International Rescue Committee) - Medical Coordination, OPD (Out Patient Department), Public Health & Training, Camp Maintenance

HI (Handicap International) - Hospital

COR (Christian Out Reach) - MCH Clinic (Mother Child Health), Dental Clinic

ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) - ICRC surgical hospital, Family Reunification

Khmer Traditional Medicine

SAWS (Seventh Day Adventist World Service) - General Hospital Ward


Education - 

IRC (International Rescue Committee) - Primary and Secondary Education, ESL (English as a Second Language), Teacher Training

YWAM (Youth With A Mission) - Secondary Education

COR (Christian Out Reach) - Vocational Skills


Social - 

IRC (International Rescue Committee) - Khmer Arts & Dance


Printing - 

IRC (International Rescue Committee) - educational materials, literature, materials for NGOs, export

JSRC (Japan Sotho Relief Committee)- Khmer literature, export



Khao I Dang average monthly population between December 1981 and November 1982 - approximately 42,700 (ref. CDC report)

December 1982 - 40,134 (ref. CDC report)

mid-June 1983 - 57,500 (ref. CDC report)

1991 - 14,734

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Last modified: 01/03/14

All photos by Richard Rowat unless otherwise specified