Zimbabwean family stranded at airport for months

Zimbabwean family stranded at airport for months

Kittipong Kittikachorn  (left), deputy director of Suvarnabhumi airport, speaks with the Zimbabwean family that has been stranded in the airport for over two months, at the airport Wednesday evening. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
Kittipong Kittikachorn (left), deputy director of Suvarnabhumi airport, speaks with the Zimbabwean family that has been stranded in the airport for over two months, at the airport Wednesday evening. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

The Immigration Bureau confirms that a Zimbabwean family of eight - including four young children - has been living at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan for several months pending an asylum process with the United Nations.

Pol Col Cherngron Rimphadee, deputy spokesman for the bureau, said on Wednesday that the family of Muvadi Rodrick had been under the care of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) in a section inside the main airport terminal.

According to Pol Col Cherngron, who is also deputy commander of Immigration Division 2, the stranded family consists of four adults, two males and two females, and four children - three males and one female, aged 2, 6, 7 and 11.

The family arrived in Thailand in May as tourists. On Oct 23 they went to Suvarnabhumi airport to board a UIA flight to Barcelona via Kiev. But since they had no visas to enter Spain, the airline denied them boarding and sent them to immigration police.

Finding they had overstayed their Thai visas by five months, immigration police fined them and did not let them leave the airport. The police asked UIA to send them back to Zimbabwe - but the family refused to return to their homeland, saying they feared unrest there.

On Nov 7 the family bought new tickets to Spain via Ukraine. This time, they made it as far as Ukraine, but were sent back to Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 13.

The family then sought to register as asylum-seekers with the United Nations. The UN Refugee Agency later informed the Department of International Organisations that the Zimbabweans were registered as asylum seekers who faced danger in their homeland, and that their asylum process was underway.

UN officials had already interviewed the family, Pol Col Cherngron said. His explanation followed a post and photograph by Facebook user Kanaruj Artt Pornsopit that brought attention to the months-long stay of the Zimbabwean family at Suvarnabhumi airport.


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