Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadol Pattama asserts that his country will continue to provide humanitarian aid after the Hmong refugees and look after them, both at Ban Huay Nam Khao and at the Nongkhai detention camp, and will not forcibly repatriate them even though they are considered illegal aliens.
Mr. Noppadol says the almost 8,000 refugees will be screened first before they can be sent back to Laos. He adds that, with funding from the U.S. government, Thai authorities have built a new shelter for the roughly 150 Hmongs being detained by Nongkhai immigration police, and they are now living more comfortably.
Meanwhile, Some 5,000 Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao continue their protests that began on May 16 at the entrance to the camp, calling on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to quickly resettle them in a third country, now that their shelters have been destroyed by a fire in late May. About 80% of the shelters for some 1,300 Hmong households at Ban Huay Nam Khao were damaged or destroyed by that fire. The protesters have clashed with Thai soldiers overseeing the camp who said the refugees have no right to demonstrate because they are illegal immigrants. Thai military officials have accused the Hmongs of doing everything they could, to cause unrest and aggravate the situation.
The refugees, on the other hand, accuse Thai officials of trying to divide them because more than 2,000 refugees do not condone the rally and have gone back to live inside the camp. A number of refugees have reportedly been injured in clashes with Thai soldiers.
Listen to our report for more details in Lao.