Prawit asks UNHCR to speed up processing
Thailand has urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to speed up the work to transfer refugees and asylum seekers from Thailand to a third country, according to Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon made the request at a meeting with Indrika Ratwatte, the UNHCR director for Asia and the Pacific, during his visit to the Defence Ministry on Wednesday, said Lt Gen Kongcheep.
Gen Prawit also called on the UNHCR to help resolve refugee problems created by armed conflict in neighbouring Myanmar, said Lt Gen Kongcheep.
Thailand would continue contributing to the UNHCR's work, including a programme of voluntary and sustainable repatriation of refugees and asylum seekers to their countries of origin, and provision of education and protection for detained children, he said.
As the Asean chair, Thailand is also committed to the speedy repatriation of displaced people back to Rakhine state in Myanmar, Gen Prawit was quoted as telling Mr Ratwatte.
Asean will soon initiate a project in Rakhine to support the state's preparations for returnees, said Gen Prawit.
The UNHCR says more than 742,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from Rakhine to Bangladesh camps after August 2017 when deadly violence broke out in the state.
Mr Ratwatte promised support for Thailand in its handling of refugees and asylum seekers, said Lt Gen Kongcheep.
Meanwhile, the cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft of Thailand's commitments to be declared at the 1st Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Dec 17-18.
Thailand is committed to working further to certify education documents for Myanmar children who seek refuge from armed conflict, according to the approved draft. It is also committed to ensuring job opportunities for Myanmar nationals in Thailand who have undergone proper occupational training, said the same draft. Another pledge is to develop guidelines for Myanmar in preparing its communities for the return of those who flee.