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Empty villages

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Many borders in the Surin, Buri Ram area are deserted except for a few defence volunteers.

A village defence volunteer scans the almost deserted neighbourhood of Ban Nong Khanna in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district after residents fled the border conflict. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD


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Who remains?

The villages lie empty, the only sounds are gunfire
 
King-oua Laohong & Nopparat Kingkaew

Silence enshrouds border villages in Surin, now left with empty houses and a few dogs and chickens to brace for the only punctuation of time – gunshots.

If anybody travels along the roads leading to the remote villages at the Thai-Cambodian border near Prasat, Phanom Dong Rak and Kap Choeng  districts, they have to ask themselves, amid the air of desolation: ''Where have all the people gone?''

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department yesterday announced that 44 evacuation centres have been set up so far – 35 in Surin and nine in Buri Ram.

In Surin, about 40,400 people have already been relocated while in neighbouring Buri Ram, 7,800 people have had to leave their home towns.

Villagers in Kap Choeng, whose villages are nearest Cambodia, have all gone. The government told them to evacuate because Cambodia reportedly fired Russian-made BM-21 rockets, PM's Office Minister Ong-art Klampaiboon said.

''Some dropped in villages,'' he added.

Banyong Thongsisuk, of Ban Khoen Kaew Moo 13 in tambon Kap Choeng, is among newcomers at a camp in Kap Choeng district opened by the government.

''Now it's all the same in every village. No one dares to enter, especially at night,'' he said.

He recalled a shell attack on a house of his neighbour one evening, the final straw that forced him and his family out of the village.

''As he was going to eat dinner, the shell fell on his house. He was killed,'' Mr Banyong said.

Villagers in Phanom Dong Rak district also bore the brunt of the conflict.

While a few people who volunteered to guard their areas were given guns to defend themselves, the weapons could not always ensure them of safety.

''When we heard gunfire, we ran to find places to shelter, jumping in different directions,'' said Prasit Yingchoedngam, a member of a village defence volunteer team at Ban Nong Khanna Moo 4 in Phanom Dong Rak.

In Kap Choeng hospital, the wards are also deadly quiet.

The government has now decided to temporarily close the frontline hospital, relocating all patients and medical staff to Prasat hospital because it also faces rocket attacks.

''I don't know when the fighting will end. Nobody here knows when it will end. The people have fled and now even animals are leaving the villages,'' Mr Banyong said.

''No one can live there. They don't want to die.''

volunteer – someone who is not paid for the work that they do อาสาสมัคร
scan – to look at something very carefully, because you hope or expect to see a particular person or thing มองกวาด, ดูผ่าน ๆ ตา
deserted – empty ที่ถูกทิ้งให้ว่างเปล่า  ร้างไป
neighbourhood – a particular area of a city or town ละแวก, ย่าน
residents – people who live in a particular area ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
fled (past of flee) – escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there หนีไป
(armed) conflict – a fight in which both sides use weapons การต่อสู้ด้วยกำลังอาวุธ
silent – very quiet; without sound เงียบ
enshroud – to cover or surround something completely so that it cannot be seen or understood ปิดบัง, ทำให้คลุมเครือ
brace for – to get ready for something unpleasant เตรียมรับมือ
punctuation – interruption; stopping something for a short time  การขัดจังหวะ
remote – far away from other cities, towns, or people ที่ห่างไกล
amid – happening while something else is happening ท่ามกลาง
air – the particular feeling or impression that is given by something บรรยากาศ
desolation – the feeling of being very lonely and unhappy; the state of a place that is ruined or destroyed and offers no joy or hope to people ความหดหู่ใจ, ความสิ้นหวัง,  การทิ้งร้าง, การไร้ผู้คน
disaster – something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage  ความหายนะ
prevention – preventing something bad from happening การป้องกันภ้ย
mitigation – a reduction in the harmful effects of something  บรรเทา  ผ่อนคลาย
evacuation – moving people from a place of danger to a safer place การอพยพ
relocate – to move someone or something to another place โยกย้ายประชาชนออกจากบริเวณ
dare – to be brave enough to do something  กล้า
recall – to remember จำได้ นึกทบทวน
shell – a weapon consisting of a metal container filled with a substance that explodes, fired from a large gun กระสุนปืนใหญ่
final straw (last straw) – the last in a series of bad events, etc. that makes it impossible for you to accept a situation any longer ปัญหาสุดท้ายที่ทำให้หมดความอดทน
bear the brunt – to receive the main force of something unpleasant รับผลร้าย  แบกรับ
volunteer – to do some work without being paid  อาสาสมัคร
ensure – to make certain that something happens or is done  ให้การยืนยัน, รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ
shelter – to temporarily stay in a place where you are protected from danger or bad weather หลบภัย  พักชั่วคราว
defence – protecting somebody/something from attack  การป้องกัน, การต้าน, การ พิทักษ์
ward – a separate room or area in a hospital for people with the same type of medical condition แผนกในโรงพยาบาลที่มีคนไข้ประเภทเดียวกัน
temporarily – for a limited period of time ชั่วคราว
frontline – directly involved where fighting takes place แนวหน้า
patient – someone who is receiving medical treatment คนป่วย, คนไข้

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