Thousands of stateless people granted nationality in Thailand – UN refugee agency

An ethnic Akha, Thida Arngee was stateless until she obtained Thai nationality four years ago. Photo: UNHCR/Roger Arnold

1 December 2015 – Welcoming Thailand’s announcement that it has granted nationality to more than 18,000 stateless people in the past several years, the United Nations refugee agency today hailed the move as a further step in accelerating the global campaign to end stateless by 2024.

“UNHCR [The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees] welcomes an announcement by the Royal Thai Government that more than 18,000 people have been granted nationality in Thailand in the last three years,” William Spindler, UNHCR Spokesperson, told the regular press briefing in Geneva.

Stateless people hardly enjoy their human rights, have poor access to basic services such as healthcare and education, and have limited employment opportunities, according to a newly-released report by UNHCR.

As such, the agency has worked with the Thai authorities with outreach to affected communities to expedite application process, build capacity and finance the deployment of mobile teams in remote areas. Moreover, UNHCR helps to sensitize communities and assist in application procedures.

The Thai Government, also acknowledging the problem, not only established a legal framework but has enacted legislative changes since 2008.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn further launched campaigns to ensure school-aged children and vulnerable people have greater access to nationality.

There are some 443,862 stateless people in Thailand. Many of them are from hill tribes living in remote or border areas, with limited information on accessing to rights and nationality.

“UNHCR hopes that Thailand’s progress in granting nationality can be a positive example to other countries in the region,” said Mr. Spindler, noting that there are more than 10 million stateless people worldwide, over 40 per cent of them from Asia.


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