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Pakistani Christians eyeing Thailand as safe haven feel frustrated

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Hundreds of Pakistani Christians stranded in Thailand feel frustrated as they likely face detentions and deportations. These Pakistanis left their homeland seeking a safe haven in a foreign country that never signed the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention therefore not officially recognizing refugees or asylum seekers.

Pakistani Christians persecuted

Recently, many Pakistani Christians have arrived in Thailand majority of them eyeing Europe as their final destination. However, they land in trouble when they fail to acquire refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Consequently, they end up in horrifying detention cells.

Also Read: Blasphemy accused Pakistani Christian youth in limbo

In this regard, International Christian Voice — a Canada based Christian charity group which advocates for Pakistani Christians largely is eager to resettle the stranded Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Canada. ICV wants to rescue the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers detained in the Immigration Detention Cells (IDC )or either are hiding from the Thai police in order to escape arrests. ICV maintains that it has arranged almost 150 sponsors ready to succor Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand.

UNHCR Canada spokesperson Gisele Nyembwe was quoted by The Catholic Register saying: “We also have been hearing a lot from people concerning the crackdown on persons who have entered Thailand illegally or who have overstayed their visas. Although the crackdown is not directed at persons of concern to the UNHCR as such, we have received reports that they are inevitably being caught in this net.”

International Christian Voice Chairman Mr. Peter Bhatti, explained that the problem is that is that most of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers get confused during the UNHCR interview process. They have little education therefore fail to give satisfactory answers to their interviewers.

“I have done 170 interviews (in Thailand). I go to their homes and find out their personal stories — why they fled from Pakistan, what their circumstances are. What I find out… is that these people are mostly not very professional, not really very educated … They cannot explain what happened to them.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Beatrice says that Canada’s government is monitoring the situation. It is government’s priority to prevent deportations of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers is they are in process of immigrating to Canada.

“We cannot commit to specific timing for processing or arrival. Sponsors are encouraged to advise the department should any of their applicants be affected by the immigration raids in Thailand. The UNHCR and IRCC work together to expedite the processing of recognized refugees in Canada’s resettlement process who are at imminent risk of refoulement (the term for returning refugees to their country of origin),” Fenelon stated.