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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Thailand

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Thailand country operations map

  • Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol and does not have a formal national asylum framework. The Thai Government currently hosts refugees from Myanmar in nine temporary shelters along the border.

  • Since early 2012, ceasefires signed between the Myanmar Government and the main non-state armed groups have led to a decrease in security incidents in south-east Myanmar. While conditions are not yet fully conducive for UNHCR to promote voluntary repatriation, it is possible that spontaneous returns might increase in 2015.

  • In the wake of the May 2014 military coup, immigration measures in the country were tightened and the policy restricting the movement of undocumented people in border areas was implemented more strictly.

  • Rohingya people continue to flee by sea due to communal violence in Myanmar and reach the Thai coast. Men are placed in immigration detention centres and women and children in social community centres.

  • The Government continues to assume primary responsibility for addressing statelessness and risks thereof in Thailand. UNHCR supports implementation of the nationality legislation and strategy that deals with people without clear legal status.

People of concern

Refugees from Myanmar of mostly Kayin and Kayah origin fled armed conflict and have sought refuge in Thailand for more than three decades in temporary shelters administered by the host country.

Refugees and asylum-seekers of more than 40 nationalities are coming to Thailand in increasing numbers. Many live in Bangkok and the surrounding urban areas with no legal means to sustain their livelihoods. Close to 200 are held in immigration detention centres. Those not detained risk arrest and detention, as well as deportation, if found without valid visas.

Rohingya people fleeing communal violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State have been allowed to stay temporarily in Thailand.

Stateless people and people at risk of statelessness in Thailand have either never registered as Thai or lost their connection with former countries of origin due to legislative changes. Others, being habitual residents who had previously lost their citizenship due to legislative changes are now able, through new amendments, to regularize their Thai nationality.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Thailand
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country Of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total 645,400 87,700 614,100 107,900
Refugees Sri Lanka 300 300 500 500
Myanmar 72,900 72,900 53,600 53,600
Pakistan 400 400 700 700
Various 1,800 1,800 2,600 2,600
People in refugee-like situations Myanmar 51,500 - 32,600 32,600
Various 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
Asylum-seekers Palestinian 900 900 1,300 1,300
Pakistan 7,600 7,600 11,500 11,500
Various 2,800 2,800 4,100 4,100
Stateless Stateless 506,200 - 506,200 -

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2015, UNHCR will continue to focus on core protection activities and developing durable solutions strategies in the face of decreasing funds and reduced services in temporary shelters. Self-reliance and occupational skills development will be prioritized, in addition to reconciliation and peacebuilding activities within communities.

UNHCR will support repatriation, if conditions become conducive in the home countries for voluntary returns to take place in safety and dignity. The organization is leading the overall humanitarian preparedness through activities such as information dissemination, consultations, and enhanced coordination and planning forums.

In urban areas, an ongoing surge of new arrivals continues to delay case processing and may increase risks of arrest and deportation for people of concern, as well as possible exploitation and abuse as they engage in informal work. UNHCR will continue to conduct urgent protection interventions, advocate detention alternatives and seek enhanced access to basic public services, such as health and education, while seeking to raise awareness so that people of concern may fully benefit from existing protection mechanisms.

UNHCR will support the Government in tackling statelessness and risks thereof, through a pilot project aimed at addressing challenges, such as a lack of awareness among populations in remote areas and bottlenecks in local processing of nationality-related applications.

| Implementation |

Coordination

UNHCR chairs the Donor Humanitarian Agencies Working Group, bringing together donors and international organizations (including IOM and NGOs) for strategic and operational discussions related to refugee protection and durable solutions in the nine temporary shelters. It also chairs the Voluntary Repatriation Coordination Group, comprising refugee leaders from camps, humanitarian organizations and donors.

The Office coordinates the inter-agency Detention Task Force to advocate alternatives to detaining refugees and actively participates in the UN Country Team. UNHCR also leads the Statelessness Support Group, an inter-agency network of national and international organizations that aims to support the Government in implementing its strategy on nationality.

2015 UNHCR partners in Thailand
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Interior
NGOs: Adventist Development and Relief Agency, American Refugee Committee, Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees, Handicap International, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale, The Border Consortium
Others: UNOPS, UNV
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, National Security Council
NGOs: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, Asylum Access, DARE Network, Malteser International, Plan International, Right To Play, Save the Children, Shanti Volunteer Association, Solidarités International, Taipei Overseas Peace Service, Women's Education for Advancement and Empowerment, World Education
Others: Finnish Refugee Council, IOM, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO

| Financial information |

For the past five years, UNHCR's budget evolved in response to emerging challenges and opportunities, such as: the surge of new arrivals in urban areas; Rohingya people found to be in need of protection; the growing prospect of voluntary repatriation becoming a genuine durable solution for refugees from Myanmar on the border; and an opportunity to strengthen national civil registration processes for stateless people.

The Office's comprehensive needs for 2015 are set at USD 37.2 million. Without the necessary resources, UNHCR will not be able to reach all people of concern and activities will be prioritized for the most vulnerable.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update


UNHCR contact information

UNHCR Regional Office in Thailand
Style of Address The UNHCR Regional Representative in Thailand
Street Address 3rd Floor, United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, 10200 Bangkok, Thailand
Mailing Address P.O. Box 2-121, 10200 Bangkok, Thailand
Telephone 66 2 288 1858
Facsimile 66 2 280 0555
Website http://unhcr.or.th
Email thaba@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 7
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:8:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:8:00 - 16:30
Thursday:8:00 - 16:30
Friday:8:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New Year's Day
04 March 2015, Makha Bucha Day
06 April 2015, Chakri Memorial Day
13 April 2015, Songkran Day
01 June 2015, Visakha Bucha Day
17 July 2015, Eid-al-Fitr
12 August 2015, H M the Queen's Birthday
24 September 2015, Eid-al-Adha
07 December 2015, H M the King's Birthday
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
Style of Address UNHCR Field Office at Mae Sot
Street Address 34/5 Mae Sot - Mae Tao Road, Mae Sot Drictrict, Tak, Thailand
Mailing Address 34/5 Mae Sot - Mae Tao Road, Mae Sot Drictrict, Tak, Thailand
Telephone 66 55 534 636
Facsimile 66 55 534 617
Email thabm@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 7
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:8:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:8:00 - 16:30
Thursday:8:00 - 16:30
Friday:8:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New Year's Day
04 March 2015, Makha Bucha Day
06 April 2015, Chakri Memorial Day
13 April 2015, Songkran Day
01 June 2015, Visakha Bucha Day
17 July 2015, Eid-al-Fitr
12 August 2015, H M the Queen's Birthday
24 September 2015, Eid-al-Adha
07 December 2015, H M the King's Birthday
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
UNHCR Field Office at Kanchanaburi
Style of Address UNHCR Field Office at Kanchanaburi
Street Address 265 Saengchuto-Tai Road, Pak Preak, Muang District, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Mailing Address 265 Saengchuto-Tai Road, Pak Preak,, Muang District, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Telephone 66 34 622 393
Facsimile 66 34 622 919
Email thakc@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 7
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:8:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:8:00 - 16:30
Thursday:8:00 - 16:30
Friday:8:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New Year's Day
04 March 2015, Makha Bucha Day
06 April 2015, Chakri Memorial Day
13 April 2015, Songkran Day
01 June 2015, Visakha Bucha Day
17 July 2015, Eid-al-Fitr
12 August 2015, H M the Queen's Birthday
24 September 2015, Eid-al-Adha
07 December 2015, H M the King's Birthday
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
UNHCR Field Office at Mae Hong Son
Style of Address UNHCR Field Office at Mae Hong Son
Street Address 23 Nivespisan Road, Muang District, 58000 Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Mailing Address 23 Nivespisan Road, Muang District, 58000 Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Telephone 66 53 611 197
Facsimile 66 53 613 118
Email thamh@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 7
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:8:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:8:00 - 16:30
Thursday:8:00 - 16:30
Friday:8:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New Year's Day
04 March 2015, Makha Bucha Day
06 April 2015, Chakri Memorial Day
13 April 2015, Songkran Day
01 June 2015, Visakha Bucha Day
17 July 2015, Eid-al-Fitr
12 August 2015, H M the Queen's Birthday
24 September 2015, Eid-al-Adha
07 December 2015, H M the King's Birthday
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
UNHCR Field Office at Mae Sariang
Style of Address UNHCR Field Office at Mae Sariang
Street Address 157/6 Moo 12 Langpanich Road, Bankard, Mae Sariang District, 58110 Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Mailing Address 157/6 Moo 12 Langpanich Road, Bankard, Mae Sariang District, 58110 Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Telephone 665 368 2568
Facsimile 665 362 1091
Email thams@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 7
Working Hours
Monday:08:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:08:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:08:00 - 16:30
Thursday:08:00 - 16:30
Friday:08:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, New Year's Day
04 March 2015, Makha Bucha Day
06 April 2015, Chakri Memorial Day
13 April 2015, Songkran Day
01 June 2015, Visakha Bucha Day
17 July 2015, Eid-al-Fitr
12 August 2015, H M the Queen's Birthday
24 September 2015, Eid-al-Adha
07 December 2015, H M the King's Birthday
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
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Statistical Snapshot*
* As at July 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2014. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2014.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Thailand [1]
Refugees [2]
More info 132,838
This figure includes 57,500 unregistered persons originating from Myanmar living in the refugee camps and reported as persons in a refugee-like situation.
Asylum Seekers [3] 8,336
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7]
More info 506,197
Figure of stateless persons in Thailand refers to 2011.
Various [8] 409
Total Population of Concern 647,780
Originating from Thailand [1]
Refugees [2] 246
Asylum Seekers [3] 194
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 440
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
YearUSD
2014
More info 20,000
As at 15 January 2015
2013 20,000
2012 20,000
2011 20,000
2010 20,000
2009 20,000
2008 20,000
2007 20,000
2006 20,000
2005 20,000
2004 20,000
2003 25,000
2002 15,000
2001 0
2000 15,000
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Private sector fund raising 2013

Total contribution in USD: 4,288,293
Total contribution in currency: 131,528,327 (THB)
2013 Contributions chart
Contributions since 2006
YearUSD
2014
More info 4,502,582
As at 15 January 2015
2013
More info 4,288,293

Total contribution in USD: 4,288,293
Total contribution in currency: 131,528,327 (THB)
2012 3,691,828
2011
More info 3,330,039

Total contribution in USD: 3,330,039
Total contribution in currency: 101,452,040 (THB)
2010
More info 2,325,736

Total contribution in USD: 2,323,731
Total contribution in currency: 73,741,971 THB
2009 1,430,366
2008 167,684
2007 0
2006 0

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Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

Over 2,000 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the border into Thailand in recent months. Most claim to be fleeing renewed conflict and human rights abuses in Kayin state, Myanmar. The mainly ethnic Karen refugees say their houses and villages have been burned and civilians killed. Many were weak upon arrival, suffering from illnesses such as malaria, after a long, dangerous journey to the camps through heavily mined areas. The refugees have been arriving at government-run camps, mainly in the Mae Hong Son area in northern Thailand.

UNHCR is working with the Thai government and non-governmental organisations to ensure the new arrivals are admitted to the camps and provided with adequate shelter and protection. Shelter has been a major issue as the capacity in many refugee camps has been overwhelmed. In a breakthrough in mid-May, Thai authorities agreed to build proper houses for the new arrivals.

There are currently 140,000 refugees from Myanmar living in nine border camps in Thailand, many of them have been there for up to 20 years.

Refugees from Myanmar: Ethnic Karens Seek Shelter

Angelina Jolie revisits Myanmar refugees on World Refugee Day

UNHCR's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie spent this year's World Refugee Day with Karenni refugees from Myanmar. Some have been in exile in Thailand for 30 years, making this one of the longest-running refugee situations in the world.

On her fourth visit to the refugee camps in Thailand, Jolie met Baw Meh's family, three generations of refugees who have lived in Ban Mai Nai Soi camp since 1996.

The family told Jolie they fled Myanmar's Kayah state thinking they would return home shortly. Eighteen years later, they are still here. Baw Meh, 75, lost her husband last year. He died before he could fulfill his dream of returning home. Some of their family members have been resettled to third countries. Others have chosen to stay. Baw Meh has refused to go, preferring to stay close to her village.

Like many refugees along the border, her family is watching the reform process in Myanmar closely and mulling the prospect of eventual return. "After 30 years in exile, the best solution we can give these refugees is the right and power to choose their own way forward," said Jolie. "This is our chance to get it right, to break the vicious cycle of conflict and displacement once and for all."

Angelina Jolie revisits Myanmar refugees on World Refugee Day

Thailand: Thang's Dilemma Play video

Thailand: Thang's Dilemma

Thang is a refugee in Thailand. He and his mother fled his village because he feared being forced to join an army that was killing his own people. No one chooses to be a refugee.
Angelina Jolie visits refugees in ThailandPlay video

Angelina Jolie visits refugees in Thailand

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visits Karenni refugees in northern Thailand.
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Decision-makers of four high powered international corporations came together in a refugee camp in Thailand, looking for innovative ways to assist refugees.
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Through ninemillion.org Paw Wah, a young refugee living in a refugee camp in Thailand is able to share with you a glimps of her life. To learn more about the ninemillion.org campaign visit the website.