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UNHCR welcomes Thailand’s pledges towards a new refugee screening mechanism


BANGKOK, September 26 – The UN refugee agency warmly welcomes the Royal Thai Government’s concrete pledges designed to improve protection and solutions for refugees in Thailand as summarized by the Prime Minister at last week’s UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, and the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, convened by US President Barack Obama in New York. 

UNHCR understands that some of the major pledges include establishing an effective screening mechanism to distinguish refugees from economic migrants, as well as a clear commitment to end the practice of immigration detention of refugee and asylum-seeker children. During his speech in New York, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also reiterated Thailand’s commitment to respecting the voluntary nature of refugee returns to Myanmar.

“These pledges show a progressive and forward-looking vision. Not only do they demonstrate Thailand’s long-standing commitment to finding solutions for and responding to the protection needs of thousands of refugees, but they also show Thailand’s important leadership role throughout ASEAN in enhancing protection and serve as a positive example to other nations in the region and beyond,” said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR’s Representative in Thailand.

Underscoring previous commitments expressed at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, UNHCR also warmly welcomes Thailand’s promise to increase refugees’ access to education, health care and birth registration. This will improve the well-being of those awaiting durable solutions and minimalize disruption of schooling and livelihoods.

“With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced globally, it is crucial that States and international actors work hand in hand. We are happy to see Thailand actively participating in these much-needed global dialogues,” Menikdiwela noted.

The Leaders’ summit – co-hosted by the US, the UN Secretary General, Ethiopia, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Sweden and Jordan - came on the heels of the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, and sought concrete pledges in three areas: improved access to education and job opportunities for refugees, resettlement and other forms of admission, and humanitarian finance. Forty-eight states from around the globe took part, including nine from Africa, six from the Americas, seven from Asia, 20 from Europe and six from the Middle East and North Africa region. The European Union and World Bank also participated.

“We look forward to working together with the Royal Thai Government to translate these important commitments into practical action and results,” said Menikdiwela.