Refugee advocates praise Thailand’s new screening system

Advocates for refugees are praising a new screening system Thailand will implement in June that will help distinguish those in need of international protection from economic migrants who enter the country every year.

“If Thailand builds upon the proposed regulation, it could become a regional leader in operationalizing fair processes that protect refugee rights. It could create a regional milestone,’’ Themba Lewis and Daniel Davies of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network co-wrote in an opinion piece in the Bangkok Post.

Human rights advocates and Thai civil society are cautiously optimistic, they wrote, that the new policy could ‘usher in a new era of humanitarianism.” Thailand has allowed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to operate in the country for decades.

The country has given sanctuary to hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of refugees and displaced people during the past half-century. At the same time, Thailand plays host to over 2 million workers who have migrated from those countries in search of jobs and a better life.

Since 2014, Thailand has also been implementing a massive program to document the migrants and provide them with permission to work in the country legally so that they are less prone to abuse and can avail themselves of government and social services.

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