THAILAND’S Catholic aid agency has been refused access to more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum seekers in northern Thailand as thousands of Thai soldiers arrived to deport them to Laos.
The Hmong said they faced persecution from the Laotian regime for fighting alongside US forces during the Vietnam War. Thailand claimed they were illegal economic immigrants.
A Thai representative from UNICEF, which supports the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees, said the Catholic agency’s staffers were denied access to the Hmong camp in Phetchabun province’s Khao Kho district, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.
The Catholic agency replaced Doctors Without Borders at the camp in June after the French organisation withdrew, claiming military restrictions hindered its humanitarian operations.
It is the only aid agency providing assistance to the Hmong asylum seekers.