Thai authorities said they will not press for the repatriation to Laos of the 153 Hmongs currently detained in NongKhai, after having been assured by the UNHCR and a number of third countries that they will accept those refugees for resettlement.
Thai officials expressed concern, however, that more Hmongs will try to escape Laos to Thailand hoping they, too, will be eventually given a chance to resettle in third countries.
Those Hmong refugees have been detained in Nongkhai since last November, when they were transported from Bangkok where they were arrested for illegally entering the country.
They have been screened and their nationality verified by Lao officials who were ready to take them back, January 30. Some of the refugees went to board a bus in tears but over half, mostly men, refused to leave the detention center and barricaded themselves in jail, threatening to kill themselves if forced to leave.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details.