Hmong: Thai agency blocked from refugee access
Below is an article published by CathNews Asia :
Thailand’s Catholic Office for Emergency and Refugees which looked after some 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers before they were deported to Laos, says that it still has no access to the people or knowledge of their situation.
Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR) pledged to continue working with the Hmong after their repatriation but it has been prevented from doing so by the Laotian government even after more than a month, UCA News reports.
“We can’t do anything. We have to wait for the outcome of negotiations between Laos and UNICEF or UNHCR,” said Bishop Joseph Phibul Visitnonthachai of Nakhon Sawan, executive director of COERR.
The Thai government on Dec. 28 repatriated the Hmong from Huay Nam Khao refugee camp in Phetchabun province, northern Thailand, despite protests from various international bodies and governments.
It claimed everyone in the camp as “illegal immigrants.”
COERR was the only private organization working with the displaced Hmong before their repatriation, coordinating with UNICEF.
“The Laotian government will not negotiate with us,” Bishop Phibul told UCA News today, explaining that it only negotiates with other governments or with the United Nations on these issues.
“If UNICEF or UNHCR gets permission to work on this issue, then we can ask UNICEF to continue working with them. However we don’t know when will that be.”
Thailand has repatriated 17 groups of Hmong to Laos since 2005.
Many Laotian Hmong who had fought for the US during the Vietnam War fled in 1975 when the communist Pathet Lao took over the country. Thousands have been resettled in the United States.