World! UN Steps in to Help Zimbabweans Family Stuck in Bangkok Airport for Two Months

A Zimbabwean family stranded at Suvarnabhumi airport for months will be provided with assistance soon, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees officer said yesterday.

“The UNHCR has received the case and is working on providing a solution for them,” said Panupat Danpanich, assistant liaison officer at UNHCR Thailand.

According to Mr Panupat, resettlement of the family is being considered among other options. However, since the situation in Zimbabwe is still considered “unsettling”,

sending the family back to their country of origin is out of the question, he said.

To protect the family’s privacy, Mr Panupat refused to comment on the family’s

application status.

He said the Zimbabwean family is the only such case in Thailand. Mr Panupat however, added that there are about 6,000 asylum seekers in Thailand.

The family is staying at Suvarnabhumi airport’s transfer passenger lounge and is being supported by Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), an immigration police source, who

asked not to be named, said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said yesterday the family’s status is “persons of concern” seeking refuge in a third country.

The MFA and immigration police had earlier coordinated with the UNHCR to interview the family.

The UNHCR has acknowledged their wish and is in the process of finding a third country for them to settle. The family of eight members including four children, who arrived in Thailand as

tourists in May, had overstayed their tourist visa for five months. On Oct 23, they bought a ticket from Ukraine International Airlines to Barcelona via

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Kiev but were denied boarding since they did not have visas to enter Spain. The airline took the family back to Thailand, where immigration police asked the

airline to take them back to Zimbabwe but the family refused to budge. On Nov 7 the family attempted to leave for Spain via Ukraine for the second time and

The family then sought asylum status with the United Nations. Earlier, Immigration Police spokesman Cherngron Rimpadee said the UNHCR’s process

of refugee status determination might take two to three months, but is deemed a priority case. He said Immigration police had coordinated with Airports of Thailand (AoT) and the

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The family’s plight became known after it was revealed on a Facebook post.




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Peter Ikegbunam

Peter is a prolific writer and experienced journalist.

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