ASIA/THAILAND - The tragic odyssey of Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand

Thursday, 17 March 2016 discrimination  

United Nations Photo

Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) – The escape of thousands of Pakistani Christians that left their homeland seeking refuge in Thailand continues. They escape from pressures, harassment, threats and reprisals. Due to the Pakistani blasphemy law, all kinds of abuse can turn into death penalty. "The reasons why many are arriving in Thailand are due to the low costs of travel and because it is easy to obtain a tourist visa, but soon their dream of peace vanishes" says a local Fides source who requested anonymity for security reasons. Thailand is one of the countries that did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the subsequent Protocol of 1967. Therefore who arrives in the country and starts the bureaucratic path at the offices of the UNHCR is very soon deprived of rights and protection. The tourist visa expires within a month and money is needed for the extension, and the procedures foreseen for asylum seekers may take 3 to 5 years.
"At this point the refugee, is an illegal and a criminal - continues our source -. He cannot have a legal job and has no right to health care. He is forced to clandestine situations, often victim of shady trades and menial jobs. NGOs operating in the field are in contact with many Pakistanis in jail accused as common criminals. Women and children are imprisoned without distinction. Parishes, ordinary people, some organizations, help them as they can, in some way violating police regulations". (AP) (Agenzia Fides 17/03/2016)