ECHO grant brings hope against hope for the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand

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European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), has granted a openhanded fund for the asylum seekers in Thailand. Senior Protection officer at Bangkok’s UNHCR, confirmed that a grant 300,000 Euros has been received which will be utilized for the support of asylum seekers in Thailand.

Christians fleeing from Pakistan

The UNCHR states that these funds will be used to work over the applications still pending to be treated since 2013. Since 2013 there has been an upsurge in asylum applications about three-fold increase. Some of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, have been waiting for a hearing date from the UNHCR since 4 to 10 years.

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Pakistani Christians make the largest population of asylum seekers in Thailand, may well be relived after the funding as this grant will be used for hiring of additional staff which will speed up the process of action over asylum applications submitted before December 31, 2015.

UNHCR’ representative in Thailand, Ruvendrini Menikdiwela said, “We are very grateful for the contribution from ECHO, particularly given the rising number of conflicts and funding shortfalls globally. The additional funds will help us reduce the waiting time for asylum-seekers to receive a decision on their refugee status so that they can make informed decisions about their future.”

In the wake of funding, British Pakistani Christians Association’ chairman Wilson Chowdhry, who had been following the dilemma of Pakistani Christians in Thailand, said: “The grant from ECHO will provide solace to many asylum seekers no doubt especially the huge number of Pakistani Christians who have been living their lives in limbo for several years.

When I spoke to some of the victims of re-persecution in Thailand they were elated with the news, but still found it regrettable that despite the increased efforts of Europe and the UNHCR in Thailand, the Royal Thai Government still persists with an aggressive campaign designed to make the lives of asylums seekers and refugees impossible. ”

“The UNHCR as a body are assigned the role of protectors of asylum seekers and refugees, not simply assessors of claims. They are duty bound to improve the lives of the large number of stranded persecution victims in Thailand, and I urge them to end the Royal Thai Authority’s brutal treatment of those seeking asylum in Thailand,” he added.

“Quite simply women and children should be protected from arrest, especially those pregnant even better still any registered asylum seeker/ refugee should be exempted from arrest. Moreover, education, healthcare and fair access to employment should be mandatory.”