Followed by much talk about the plight of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand, the UNHCR has begun issuing them temporary ID cards. After the issuance of these verification cards, the Pakistani Christians are now safe from the Thai police raids.
In line with details, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand has now been issuing temporary verification cards to all those, who are seeking asylum in Thailand. These verification cards, are unofficially recognized by the Thai government.
Among those who are seeking asylum in Thailand are the battered Pakistani Christians, who have now caught a glimpse of ray of hope, after a long wait. It has been learnt that March 20 was the deadline before an unrelenting crackdown against these asylum seekers whom the Thai authorities term as “illegal immigrants.”
One of the Pakistani Christians who had fled from the Pakistan in hope of taking refuge in Thailand, said after she received the card, “I received the card before the expected 20 March crackdown, but I still remained vigilant because I never knew what would unfold. I stayed awake all night and looked outside from the top of the apartment, where we are living.”
This Pakistani Christian woman, (whose name is being withheld) continued to say, “All night we keep watch on the cars that stop down the road and, if we notice anything unusual, we move early in the morning; our belongings are always packed and we are ready to quickly move to another place if there is any perceived danger.”
She had been on the run since the Thai police had been hunting for the asylum seekers.
“We still cannot work here, as issuance of this card doesn’t mean we can be legally employed, but now fear of the detention center and deportation is over,” said Victoria.
Francis Sodagar, another Christian from Pakistan said, “The UNHCR has given verification cards and appointments to all registered asylum seekers. The crackdown was meant to deport those living without asylum-seeker status. Now we will be safe from police raids and will be at peace after such a long time.”
Nonetheless, the fear of the Thai authorities’ raids was so engulfing that the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers remained apprehended despite being provided with verification cards from the UNHCR High Commissioner. If the verification cards had not been issued, the Thai authorities had proposed to deport the Pakistani Christians back to Pakistan.
The verification cards issued by the UNHCR reads as follows:
“The card-holder is a person of concern to the UNHCR, registered and documented pursuant to its UN General Assembly Mandate, and should not be involuntarily returned to his/her country of origin. Any assistance accorded to the card-holder is most appreciated.”
Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand have been forced to live in a constant state of fear as the Thai police has been carrying out raids frequently, hooking them and detaining in dingy detention centers. The detainees have to live under pathetic and pitiable conditions, which have even caused death of eleven Pakistani Christian asylum seekers. However, the issuance of verification cards has now blown away this fear of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers.