Bangkok UN refugee agency struggles to process applications

Refugee group says there are more than 8,000 asylum seekers currently living in the Thai capital
Bangkok UN refugee agency struggles to process applications

A file image of Pakistani refugees in their temporary room in an undisclosed location in Bangkok. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP)

March 30, 2017
The United Nations refugee agency in Bangkok is struggling to cope with large numbers of refugee applications, resulting in claimants waiting extended periods to have applications processed.

Jennifer Bose, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees' associate reporting officer in Bangkok, said the agency lacked sufficient funds to effectively deal with the large number of asylum cases in the Thai capital.

"While many countries have national systems and staff to cope, in Thailand the UNHCR does the processing with far fewer resources," Bose told Al Jazeera.

"We are much underfunded in this operation and have eight trained legal staff to process 4,000 asylum cases in Bangkok," said Bose.

Al Jazeera reported that U.S.-based Asylum Access said there are more than 8,000 refugees currently living in Bangkok.

Applicants — many of them from Pakistan, China or Vietnam — report waiting years in Thailand to have their applications processed by the U.N.

Thailand is not a party to the U.N.'s 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and neither its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The head of the UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, is currently visiting Thailand March 27-30.

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