Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

UN refugee agency welcomes Thai move to give cave boys citizenship

4 Wild Boars Granted Thai Citizenship: Official 'Stateless' Thai cave boys and coach granted citizenship
Pablo Mccormick | 09 August, 2018, 14:22

The story of the "Wild Boars" club has dominated headlines since the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in Tham Luang cave on June 23 and were trapped deep inside by rising floodwaters, setting off an worldwide search dubbed "Mission Impossible".

Three boys from a soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand last month were granted Thai citizenship on Wednesday, authorities said.

"There are many people who are born in Thailand but haven't received citizenship yet", he said, adding that residents seeking Thai nationality should apply quickly, while he still holds his job, because he has "no corrupt intentions". The area is home to ethnic minorities with roots in neighboring Myanmar.

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The three players - Adul Sam-on, Mongkol Boonpiam and Pornchai Kamluang - and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, were rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand after they were found trapped along with nine other young soccer players.

District office chief Somsak Khanakham said all 30 people were granted Thai nationality because they qualified for it under either Section 7 or Section 23 of the Nationality Act.

Somsak Kanakam, chief officer of Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, said they had "all the qualifications".

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But the event was advertised proudly on the local government's Facebook page with the words: "Wild Boars revel!" "All children born in Thailand must have Thai birth certificates in order to qualify for Thai citizenship". The rescue highlighted the plight of Thailand's "stateless" people, who are often denied rights and opportunities because they are not citizens.

Nopparat Kanthawong, the head coach of the Wild Boars team, said they received official Thai ID cards along with another team member who had not been in the cave but also applied for citizenship.

He said, "I am happy".

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More than 486,000 people are registered as stateless, according to official data. The actual number could be as high as 3.5 million, according to the International Observatory on Statelessness.

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