Archive for the ‘UNHCR’ Category

Angelina Jolie asks Thailand to aid refugees

February 8, 2009

Our thanks and admiration go to actress Angelina Jolie who is using her “starpower” to bring international attention to the plight of refugees in and around Thailand.

Almost 111,000 refugees are housed in norther Thailand in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Thailand also has a growing number of refugees entering from Myanmar who have charged Thai authorities with abuse.

We’ve seen Thailand struggle with refugees since the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.

Jolie, who serves as a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees goodwill ambassador, has dubbed refugees “the most vulnerable people in the world.”

This photo released by United Nations High Commissioner for ... 
This photo released by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie with Karenni refugee children during a visit to Ban Mai Nai Soi camp in northern Thailand. Jolie and Brad Pitt visited Myanmar refugees in a Thai camp, including one woman who had been there for more than two decades, the UN said Friday.(AFP/UNHCR)

Related:
CNN: Angelina asks Thailand….
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/07/thailand.jolie.refugees/index.html

 Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

American U.N. Official Abducted in Pakistan

February 2, 2009

Gunmen kidnapped a top American UN official and killed his driver in Pakistan Monday, in the most high-profile recent Western abduction in a country struggling to contain extremist violence.

John Solecki, head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the southwestern city of Quetta, was snatched at gunpoint while travelling to work in the capital of Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

AFP

Quetta, which has an estimated population of just under one million, is considered a possible refuge for Taliban leaders who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in late 2001 that toppled the hardline regime.

Gunmen ambushed Solecki’s vehicle, which was marked with United Nations insignia, and opened fire, wounding the driver who later died of his injuries, UN officials and police said.

Local police official Khalid Masood told AFP that Solecki was an American national and “head of the sub-office of UNHCR-Quetta.”

John Solecki, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for ... 
John Solecki, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),seen here on March 15, 2008, in the southwestern city of Quetta carries kites during a kite show for Afghan refugees arrange by UNHCR in Quetta. Gunmen kidnapped Solecki and killed his driver in Pakistan Monday, in the most high-profile recent Western abduction in a country struggling to contain extremist violence.(AFP/File/Banaras Khan)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090202/wl_s
thasia_afp/pakistanunrestsouthwestunkidnap_
20090202182646

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/0
2/02/pakistan.kidnap/index.html?iref=newssearch

UN visits boat people detained in Thailand

January 29, 2009

U.N. officials were allowed to meet Thursday with boat people detained by Thailand and interviewed a dozen migrants as young as 14 about their perilous journey and allegations they were abused.

The meeting came after weeks of calls by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and rights groups for Thailand to provide access to the Rohingyas — members of a stateless Muslim ethnic group who fled persecution in Myanmar — and explain allegations that it forced out to sea as many as 1,000 migrants.

By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer

UNHCR officials were granted access to 12 young people, aged 14 to 17, from a group of 78 Rohingyas who were rescued by the Thai navy on Monday night, said Kitty McKinsey, the U.N. agency’s Asia spokeswoman.

“They were in good condition,” she said. “It’s a big step forward that we have gotten access to them. We’re now getting good cooperation from the Thai government to solve this issue.”

McKinsey said she would discuss their findings with Thai authorities before publicizing them, but reaffirmed the agency’s demand that Thailand not forcibly return them to Myanmar. A Thai court convicted the adult migrants detained with the minors of illegal entry on Wednesday, raising concerns they could be deported.

“In principal, the UNHCR is opposed to anyone being forcibly returned to Myanmar,” she said. “I think its human rights record is well known.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090129/a
p_on_re_as/as_thailand_boat_people_8

This photo released on January 20, shows illegal immigrants ... 
This photo released on January 20, shows illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar receiving food, in Similan island south of Thailand. (AFP/HO/File/AFP)

Myanmar, Thailand Force Hungry Refugees to Run, Or Deport Them To Where?

January 29, 2009

Dozens of migrants from Myanmar who washed up in Thailand this week were convicted Wednesday of illegal entry and will be deported, police said, raising fears that they may face persecution back home.

The 78 Muslim Rohingyas — 66 men and 12 teenage boys — were intercepted just after midnight Tuesday and taken into police custody amid accusations that the Thai military have abused other boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Related:
 Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

Colonel Veerasilp Kwanseng, commander of the Paknam police station where the Rohingya were detained, said the 66 adults were fined 1,000 baht (28 dollars) each for illegal entry, but could not pay so were jailed for five days.

AFP

A Thai soldier checks the documents of a Myanmar migrant travelling ... 
A Thai soldier checks the documents of a Myanmar migrant travelling in a boat in Thailand’s southern Ranong province. Dozens of migrants from Myanmar who washed up in Thailand this week were convicted Wednesday of illegal entry and will be deported, police said, raising fears that they may face persecution back home.(AFP/File/Tuwaedaniya Meringing)

“They will stay in prison until the term is finished and then immigration will take them before processing their deportation,” Veerasilp said.

The 12 Rohingya teenage boys who are under the age of 19 will not be jailed, but will be deported with the rest of the group, he added.

Accusations of mistreatment surfaced earlier this month after nearly 650 Rohingya were rescued off India and Indonesia, some claiming to have been beaten by Thai soldiers before being set adrift in the high seas to die.

Hundreds of the boat people are still believed to be missing at sea.

Kitty McKinsey, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said the fact that the 78 Rohingya were processed by police rather than the army was positive, but said they continued to press for access to the migrants.

The UNHCR has asked to see another group of 126 Rohingya reportedly detained in Thailand earlier this month, but authorities have denied they exist.

The Rohingya are stateless and face religious and ethnic persecution from Myanmar’s military regime, forcing thousands of them to take to rickety boats each year in a bid to escape poverty and oppression, and head to Malaysia.

The Thai foreign ministry earlier Wednesday “categorically denied” reports that it had mistreated any migrants.

Refugees in Thailand convicted, fined, jailed

January 28, 2009

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — A Thai judge fined dozens of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of illegal entry after escaping from their own country a month ago — amid allegations that other Rohingya have been dumped at sea by the Thai army.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.  They fled Myanmar and were jailed in Thailand for “illegal entry.”  Where is the U.N.?

The Ranong Provincial Court judge ordered each of the 66 ethnic Muslim refugees to pay 1,000 Thai baht (less than $30). He imposed the fines via a closed-circuit television link to Ranong Provincial Prison, where the refugees will continue to be held until they can pay the court.

Twelve additional refugees, all teenagers, were being detained at a police station and are exempt from prosecution.

Read it all:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/01/28/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

Thailand denies abusing migrants; sends some to trial

January 28, 2009

It should come as no surprise that the Thai government denied that it was abusing migrants.

I live with “boat people” who fled communism in Vietnam after 1975.  Many still weep when recalling their treatment in thailand.

So I have a tendency to believe the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and journalists on the scene who have spoken to the Myanmar minority Rohingya refugees now in Thailand….

Reviews of United Nations records and media reports show a pattern of questionable if not barbaric treatment of refugees in Thailand.  Currently, there are at least two regugee abuse situation inside Thailand and not just one….

Related:
Myanmar, Thailand Force Hungry Refugees to Run, Or Deport Them To Where?.

*****

A group of refugees who survived being at sea for a month, then being beaten and burned, now await the next turn of their fates in the Thai court system.

They’ll go to trial?
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/01/28/thailand.refugees/index.html

********

AFP

Thailand‘s government has “categorically denied” mistreating migrants following reports it towed hundreds of desperate boat people back out to sea and abandoned them.

Survivors say Thailand’s military towed hundreds of migrants from Myanmar’s minority Rohingya community out to sea in poorly equipped boats with scant food and water.

But the foreign ministry said such actions had no place in Thai policy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

“As for the serious allegations… including that various forms of mistreatment were inflicted… this must be categorically denied as having no place in policy and procedures,” the ministry said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“Nevertheless, should concrete evidence be presented, the Thai government would serious look into such cases and further verification (would be) carried out,” it added.

The statement said Thai law required that all migrants arriving along the south west Andaman coastline be stopped, questioned and their needs assessed.

It said those who had not smuggled goods into the kingdom received basic humanitarian assistance before being repatriated or escorted out of Thai territory. Smugglers would be investigated and then ordered out, it said.

Accusations of mistreatment surfaced earlier this month after nearly 650 Rohingya were rescued off India and Indonesia, some claiming to have been beaten by Thai soldiers before being set adrift in the high seas.

Hundreds of the boat people are still believed to be missing at sea.

Abhisit has said authorities were dealing with the boat people in a humane way, but Britain on Tuesday joined the United Nations in expressing “concern” for the migrants’ welfare.

The foreign ministry statement said an estimated 20,000 illegal migrants were currently in Thailand and said several thousand arrive each year, calling the issue “a collective problem” for regional countries to address together.

Meanwhile Thai authorities detained a further 78 boat people from Myanmar who were found off Surin island in the south around midnight Monday, police said.

Related:
http://inthefield.blogs.cnn.com/2009/01/23/sc
andal-of-new-boat-people-damaging-thailand/

More Refugees Land in Thailand Amid Abuse, Human Rights Furor

Thailand’s Questionable Talk On Stopping Abuse of Refugees

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf
/01/27/thailand.refugees/index.html

More Refugees Land in Thailand Amid Abuse, Human Rights Furor

January 27, 2009

 A new boatload of Rohingya refugees washed up on the shores of Thailand early Tuesday, raising questions about the type of treatment they would receive.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says previous boat loads of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been beated, whiped and pushed back to sea by Thais.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.

Male refugees show scars they say were caused by beatings at the hands of the Myanmar navy.
A recent CNN investigation found evidence that the Thai military towed hundreds of refugees into open waters only to abandon them.

CNN obtained several photos of this activity including one photo that shows the Thai army towing a boatload of some 190 refugees far out to sea. CNN also interviewed a refugee who said he was one of the few that survived after his group of six rickety boats were towed back to sea and abandoned by Thai authorities in January.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORL
D/asiapcf/01/27/thailand.ref
ugees/index.html

Reviews of United Nations records and media reports show a patters of questionable if not barbaric treatment of refugees in Thailand.  Currently, there are at least two regugee abuse situation inside Thailand and not just one…..

Thailand’s Questionable Talk On Stopping Abuse of Refugees

A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of ... 
A group of Rohingya migrants are seen in a boat at sea off of Koh Sai Daeng in southwest Thailand in this undated photo obtained by CNN. Pressure mounted on Thailand on January 26, 2009 to come clean on allegations the army towed Rohingya refugees out to sea and abandoned them in engine-less boats, after CNN showed pictures depicting exactly that.

This picture provided to CNN is said to show refugees being towed out to sea by the Thai army.

This picture provided to CNN is said to show refugees being towed out to sea by the Thai army.

Thai Lawmakers Probe Abuse, Death of Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

January 23, 2009

Thailand has almost always had a troubling record on refugees.  Since the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, people have moved into Thailand by land and sea fleeing death, torture and prisons.  But in Thailand, regugees have often found death, torture, rape, miserable conditions not unlike the prisons the refugees hoped to avoid.

Last July, this from Human Rights Watch:

“Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal – a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should cooperate with international relief agencies and UNHCR to ensure that it upholds the rights of civilians under international law.”

******

Thai lawmakers were probing Thursday “very alarming” reports about its troops abusing and casting out members of a Muslim minority group fleeing to its shores.

Hundreds of Muslim refugees from Burma (Myanmar) are feared missing or dead after Thai troops forced them onto boats without engines and cut them adrift in international waters, according to human rights activists and authorities in India who rescued survivors. The revelations have shone a spotlight on the Thai military’s expulsion policy toward Muslims it sees as a security threat.

Nearly 1,000 refugees were detained on a remote island in December before being towed out to sea in two batches and abandoned with little food or water, according to a tally by a migrant-rights group based on survivors’ accounts and media reports. The detainees, mostly members of Burma’s oppressed Rohingya minority, then drifted for weeks. One group was later rescued by Indonesia’s Navy, and two others made landfall in India’s Andaman Islands.

Related:
Christian Science Monitor:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20
090123/ts_csm/oboats_1

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WO
RLD/asiapcf/01/22/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?
(What happend when refugee migrations start…)

A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach ... 
A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Sai Baed in this picture taken late 2008 and released to Reuters January 19, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that he would meet human rights groups to discuss alleged violations, as further reports emerged of ill-treatment of refugees from Myanmar by Thai security forces. The refugees, the Rohingyas, are Muslims from Myanmar. Many have fled the Buddhist-dominated, army-ruled country to escape repression and economic hardship, but rights groups say hundreds were recently detained on a remote Thai island before being forced back to sea by the security forces with little food or water. REUTERS/South China Morning Post/Pool