IRRC No. 224

The ICRC and traditional Khmer medicine

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In October and November 1979 many Khmers fled from their villages and sought refuge in camps in Thailand or along the Khmer-Thai border. The ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, international or private, had to provide for the needs of a sudden influx of people uprooted from their homes, exhausted by famine, suffering, fear, sickness and the ravages of war. The first priorities in such a situation are to supply the basic hygienic facilities, adequate food, water and shelter of some sort, all indispensable for survival. But disease and death are an ever-present threat and have to be resisted. This, then, was the task of the medical teams sent out by the ICRC and the National Societies of the Red Cross, and of many other groups belonging to other organizations who came to help the refugees. An overall coordination of the medical aid was indispensable; responsibility for this was assumed by the ICRC.

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