Site Two Refugee Camp was the largest refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border and, for several years, the largest refugee camp in South East Asia. The camp was established in January 1985 during the 1984-1985 Vietnamese ‘Dry season offensive’ against guerrilla forces opposing Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia. Site Two was closed in mid-1993 and the great majority of its population was voluntarily returned to Cambodia.
The camp covered 7.5 square kilometres. Site Two was intended as a civilian camp and the Khmer Peoples Liberation Forces were based in other locations. One section of the camp was reserved for Vietnamese refugees and beginning in January 1988 Thailand transferred Vietnamese boat people directly to Site Two. Between 1989 and 1991 the camp’s population went from 145,000 to over 198,000.
These camps did have a complete infrastructure including bicycle taxi’s transporting people to hospitals, shops, crematoriums or ‘5 bath street’ with prostitutes.
On a per person basis rice, canned or dried fish, one egg and a vegetable were distributed weekly at Site Two; dried beans, oil, salt, and wheat flour were given once a month.
Medical services were provided by 5 dirt-floored, thatched bamboo hospitals and 8 outpatient clinics staffed by doctors and nurses from international voluntary agencies as well as Khmer medics and nurses. There was no surgical facility.
The School system consisted of some fifty primary schools with an enrollment of approximately 70,000 pupils; three middle schools and three high schools with approximately 7,000 students, and more than 10,000 adults in literacy and vocational skills programs. Instruction was provided in Khmer by some 1,300 primary and over 300 secondary teachers recruited almost entirely from within the camps.
The Khmer Police took care of traditional police functions within Site Two