Thailand Opens Citizenship Path for 80,000 Stateless People

Ethnic Hmong girls in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Ethnic Hmong girls in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo: naturepost (Pixabay).

Thailand’s cabinet has passed a resolution that could allow as many as 80,000 stateless people living in the country to apply for Thai citizenship, according to a government official and the U.N.’s refugee agency.

Thailand has a total registered population of 438,821 stateless people – those who are not considered citizens of any nation due to different circumstances, the agency says. According to the International Observatory on Statelessness, the exact number of stateless people in Thailand is unknown, but likely ranges between 2 to 3.5 million.

Under the resolution adopted Dec. 7 by Thailand’s military government, 80,000 people – mostly children of migrants and displaced people – would be eligible to apply for naturalization.

“Some 80,000 children and youths will benefit from the cabinet resolution that was passed recently. This will reduce the statelessness in Thailand,” Grisada Boonrach, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, told BenarNews on Friday.

Thailand’s stateless population includes Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and members of the Karen, Mon, Hmong and other hill tribes, who cannot vote, buy land, get legal jobs or travel freely, according to the website of the International Observatory.

To obtain citizenship, Grisada said, eligible applicants will need to meet one of the following criteria: they were born in Thailand to parents from ethnic minority groups, registered by the Ministry of Interior, and have lived in Thailand for no less than 15 years; or they were born in Thailand to members of foreign groups and have graduated from university.

If they have not graduated yet, the ministry shall consider each case on an individual basis, Grisada explained.

Abandoned children whose parents are unknown can apply too if they are certified as such by a relevant agency under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and have lived in Thailand for no less than 10 years, he said.

Full story: BenarNews

Pimuk Rakkanam

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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