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UNHCR READY TO SUPPORT THAILAND WITH DETAINED GROUP IN SOUTH

More than 115,000 people -- most of them Rohingya -- are currently internally displaced in Myanmar's Rakhine state (above). Unknown numbers have left on boats for other countries in the region.

 

16 January 2013- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes recent statements by the Royal Thai Government on the need to work together to assist a group currently detained in southern Thailand who may be in need of international protection. 

According to media reports, some 850 people - including possibly some Rohingya from western Myanmar - are currently detained in Songkhla after recent anti-trafficking raids. 
 
UNHCR welcomes public assurances from Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that the group will receive temporary assistance in Thailand in respect of the principle of non-refoulement. Under international customary law, no one should be sent back to a place where his or her life and freedom could be endangered.
 
UNHCR has sought access to this group, and cannot confirm their number or identity without first talking to them.
 
“The Thai authorities have agreed in principle to give us access,” said Golam Abbas, UNHCR’s Representative ad interim in Thailand. “We would like this to happen as soon as possible, so that we can jointly look at their immediate humanitarian and protection needs.”
 
He added, “If there are people seeking asylum among the group, they should have access to a mechanism to assess their material and protection needs. This could be through Thailand’s existing Provincial Admissions Board or another agreed arrangement. We are ready to provide our support and expertise as needed.” 
 
Some 115,000 people remain internally displaced within Myanmar’s Rakhine state following inter-communal violence in June and October last year.