BANGKOK -- The Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR) has pledged to continue to help more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers who were recently repatriated from northern Thailand to Laos.
COERR, the only aid group assisting the asylum-seekers, was refused access to Huay Nam Khao camp in Phetchabun province as the Thai army deported them on Dec. 28.
“We don’t have any capacity to stop the (forcible repatriation) as it’s the right of the government,” said Bishop Joseph Phibul Visitnonthachai of Nakhon Sawan, COERR executive director.
Nevertheless, COERR is “discussing with UNICEF about getting permission to go to Laos and work with (the deportees) for some time to ensure that they are safe, able to live there and treated humanely,” he told UCA News.
The Hmong had claimed they would be victimized by the Laos regime if they were returned. Thailand has said it has assurances from the Laotian authorities that they would not be mistreated.
The UN has urged the Thai authorities to detail those assurances.