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UN seeks to help refugees stranded in Bangkok by Trump travel ban

Feb 06. 2017
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By Wasamon Audjarint
The Nation

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand is working to assist more than 100 refugees in Bangkok whose applications to resettle in the United States were frozen following US President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

“We will continue to engage with the US government on this issue while hoping that resettlement to the US will resume soon,” the UNHCR regional press officer Vivian Tan told The Nation.

The refugees the UNHCR refers for resettlement are “the most vulnerable of the vulnerable”, Tan said, including children separated from their families, survivors of torture and sexual violence, and people with urgent medical needs.

The UNHCR seeks to provide basis assistance enabling refugees to access basic healthcare, education and legal aid, while not being detained during their temporary stays in host countries.

Her remarks came in a light of a new, nationwide suspension of Trump’s order last, which resulted last week in 90-day visa suspensions for any visitor coming from seven Muslim-dominant countries in the Middle East, 120-day suspensions for all refugees and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees travelling to the US.

Trump has claimed the order was meant to evaluate the process for vetting refugees to ensure US security in the context of terrorism, but the order has cast ripples worldwide, particularly for more than 20,000 refugees seeking resettlement in the US.

According to AFP, more than 100 refugees have found temporary shelter in Thailand, where illegal immigrants and refugees are barely differentiated.

The US order was temporarily lifted on Friday by a ruling by Seattle Federal Judge James Robart, whose decision was called “outrageous” by the White House, which is seeking an emergency halt.

The US Justice Department on Saturday appealed the temporary block of Trump’s travel ban after the president unleashed a fiery tirade as people with valid US visas began arriving on American soil.

Thailand has sheltered more than 100,000 refugees along its border with Myanmar since the late 1980s. Thousands have settled in countries abroad including the US over past years but many remain in Thailand.

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