Govt hails Ukraine repatriation effort

Govt hails Ukraine repatriation effort

Thais caught in warzone return home safely

The government has announced a successful repatriation effort after almost every Thai based in Ukraine had been assisted in safely returning home.

Representatives from the Foreign Ministry led by Chatchai Viriyavejakul, director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs, yesterday welcomed two final groups of 61 Thai nationals at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The repatriation drive's fourth group of 16 arrived at 6.50am on a Thai Airways International flight via Zurich and a fifth group of 45 landed later at 12.05pm. The returnees were evacuated from Ukraine with assistance from the Thai embassies in Romania and Poland.

Mr Chatchai said the mission is almost complete as all those who wanted to leave the region are now accounted for in the evacuation, adding that the next group comprising more than 20 are scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

He said officials had reached out to Thais living and working in Ukraine and advised them what to do before the attacks began and there had also been good cooperation from their employers in providing safe shelters and transport.

"There are about 20 Thais who are staying on in Ukraine with their families. And I think there is only one Thai who is unable to leave and that person will be evacuated as soon as it is safe to travel," he said.

Pornpat Leksoongnoen, a native of Nakhon Ratchasima and one of the 16 returnees, said she and colleagues had contacted the Thai embassy before the fighting broke out.

However, she said the attack came sooner than expected and she was told by her employer to stay put at the apartment and wait for transport to the airport.

"On the way to the airport I saw violent clashes. Our bus was cut in front by a tank and artillery shells flew past us. The moment I finally felt safe was when I stepped onto the plane," Ms Pornpat said.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the returnees, who are all members of the fund for overseas Thai workers, will receive financial assistance worth 15,000 baht each.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha extended his thanks to all parties concerned in arranging the evacuation of Thais and other nationals in Ukraine.

According to Mr Thanakorn, Thai officials also helped to evacuate 15 Filipinos out of Ukraine to Warsaw and two Singapore nationals to Romania.

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