United Nations :
The decision of the Thailand government to grant citizenship to three of the boys recently rescued after being trapped in a flooded cave, along with their football coach, has been welcomed by United Nations refugee agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Following global media coverage of the rescue, it emerged that although the three boys and with their coach were residents in Thailand, they were officially Stateless. Almost half a million people in the country, often from nomadic hill tribes and other ethnic groups that have been based in border regions for centuries, do not hold Thai citizenship.
Granting the “Wild Boars” team members secure status should make a significant difference to the prospects of the boys and their coach, according to Carol Batchelor, UNHCR’s Special Advisor on Statelessness. “By granting them citizenship, Thailand has provided them with a formal identity that will pave the way for them to achieve their aspirations and to participate as full members of society,” Carol said.
Worldwide, several million people are Stateless, and can find themselves denied access to basic rights and services. Other restrictions include being refused the right to travel, marry, own property, or work.
Thailand has been hailed by the UNHCR as a leader in regional efforts to end Statelessness. In the last decade, 100,000 people have been granted Thai citizenship, and the government has committed to finding nationality solutions for all those living within its borders, by 2024.