Thai authorities admit that they will not be able to return all Hmong refugees from Ban Huay Nam Khao detention camp to Laos by year's end as originally planned.
A Thai military official says the main reason is that his government is now following the policy of not forcing the refugees to return, adding that a new deportation target number has been set at 2,000 with some 500-600 more refugees to be deported by the end of 2008. The rate of deportation also depends on the readiness of the Lao government to accommodate the returnees.
Some 1,400 Hmong refugees, out of almost 8,000 who have been staying at Ban Huay Nam Khao detention camp in Thailand's Phetchabun province, have been sent back to Laos since the beginning of 2008. Both Thai and Lao officials maintain the refugees went back voluntarily and willingly. All returnees receive a pocket money of 3,000 bahts each from the Thai government.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.