UNHCR Welcomes Reduction of Stateless People in Thailand

By Bangkok Post 2 December 2015

The UN Refugee Agency on Tuesday welcomed the government’s announcement that 18,773 formerly stateless people have been granted citizenship over the last three years.

Statistics shared by the Department of Provincial Administration processing nationality applications, show a total of 443,862 stateless persons recorded in the governmental database as of the end of October, the agency said.

“It’s very encouraging to see that people who faced difficulties in accessing civil-status documentation, formal employment or health services as a result of their undefined legal status, are now recognized as Thai nationals and enjoy unrestricted access to rights and services as full members of the Thai society,” said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s representative in Thailand.

In Thailand’s northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Tak, UNHCR supports various initiatives aimed at facilitating access to nationality, through sensitization of communities, assistance in completing applications, follow-up on pending applications and counseling, in tandem with the important work done by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn focusing on greater access to nationality for school aged children and vulnerable persons.

In recent years, UNHCR has worked with the authorities to reach out to people who face difficulties in proving their nationality and often live in remote areas. The agency supported capacity building programs for nationality officers at district level and funded the deployment of mobile teams to remote villages.

“These figures and the commitment to the nationality application process at various levels of the national administration really show the potential for ending statelessness in Thailand,” Ms Menikdiwela said on Tuesday. “This is also the result of years of sustained efforts by civil society actors, research groups and civil servants of the Bureau of Registration Administration.”

This article first appeared here on the Bangkok Post.