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Hope for overseas foreigners separated from families in Thailand



PHOTO: Chuttersnap on Unsplash

“We appreciate the sacrifices and regret the inconvenience caused.”

For weeks now, foreign nationals who normally reside in Thailand but find themselves stranded overseas due to the Covid-19 travel ban, have been pleading with the government to be allowed to return to their families. Now, there may finally be some hope on the horizon. At least their plight is now being addressed, albeit in generalisations, by the CSSA as part of their daily briefings.

Natapanu Nopakun, from the Foreign Ministry’s Information Department says once the government has finished repatriating all Thai citizens who wish to return home, they will look at doing the same for foreigners. But, initially, this will only allow work permit holders or those with a permanent residence permit to enter the country, according a report in Nation Thailand.

“Our repatriation mission is nearing completion, and once that is done, then we can accommodate the flow of foreigners stranded outside Thailand. We appreciate the sacrifices and regret the inconvenience caused but hope everyone understands that even though it appears as if Thailand has won the battle against the virus, this is only the beginning and we have not yet overcome the war.”

“The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration is currently discussing the option of letting foreigners enter the country in due course. We also plan to give priority to permanent residents and those with work permits to return as soon as the situation has eased.”

“George” has been living in Thailand for 12 years and married for 9 years to a Thai citizen. But he found himself locked out when the border gates game down at the end of March whilst he was visiting his sick mother back in the UK.

“It all happened quite suddenly and I was unable to fly back into Thailand. I desperately miss my wife and two children and will do whatever I need to so I can back with them. This is a time when families need to be together and the Thai government has shown no compassion for our situation and not even responded to my messages or letters.

Barry Mutch missed the birth of his son when he got stranded in Oman as a result of Thailand’s ban on international flights and has only seen his child on video calls. As he works off-shore however, and rarely spends more than a month at a time in Thailand, he does not hold a work permit or permanent residency. He is pleading to be allowed to return, adding that he has no problem with doing the mandatory 14 day quarantine and being tested for the virus, offering to pay for it himself.

“My son needs a father with him. It’s tough right now. I should be there bonding with him.”

“Glen” says… “Been stuck in Hawaii since 19 February, came to Hawaii to conduct personal business and file my taxes along with my grandsons graduation. My family in Thailand misses me but we are doing alright and are least I can face time with my family.”

Foreign nationals who find themselves stuck overseas, separated from their Thai partners and children, have created two Facebook groups, “Farangs Stranded Abroad Due to Lockdown in Thailand” and “Thai Expats Stranded Overseas Due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions”, where they share information and provide support, while campaigning to be reunited with their loved ones.

The number of new reported cases of the virus remains in single digits in Thailand, with the vast majority being detected while in state quarantine or detected when disembarking repatriation flights. The government is gradually lifting some restrictions, although a ban on international flights remains in place until at least the end of June.

The CCSA has said in the past that “it will spend the rest of June repatriating Thais from overseas” which means there could be at least another month of waiting for foreigners who wish to be re-united with their families.

The Thaiger will continue to publish the latest information on the matter as soon as it becomes available.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand


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