Migration education: Thai vice minister urges deep understanding to tackle illegal migration roots

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasised the necessity for a profound understanding of illegal migration among lawmakers and the general public to address the root causes of the issue. He voiced these comments during a recent seminar, Shaping Public Perception Towards Migrants, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Organisation for Migration.

Sihasak pointed out that the driving forces behind illegal migration are predominantly economic strife, warfare, or persecution. He highlighted the unique circumstances each migrant faces.

“We need to understand that migration is a multidimensional issue.”

The vice minister further stated that illegal migration is intricately linked to a multitude of other issues, such as national security, economic crises, and human rights violations. Therefore, the government must formulate a balanced approach to address these complexities.

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Sihasak recalled Thailand’s longstanding tradition of providing refuge to displaced individuals. This tradition dates back to the 1970s when 300,000 Cambodians sought refuge from civil war. More recently, individuals from strife-ridden Myanmar have found shelter in Thailand.

The vice minister also drew attention to the significant number of Thai workers employed illegally overseas. He noted that Thailand is viewed as a transit country for various migrant groups, including the Rohingya from Myanmar, Uyghurs from China, and defectors from North Korea.

The sensitivity of the issue escalates when Uyghurs are involved, due to its implications on Thai-Chinese bilateral relations, he added. Despite improvements in Thai perceptions of migrants over the years, Sihasak believes there is still scope for further progress. He urged the public to treat foreign migrant workers with the same respect and dignity as Thai citizens, said Sihasak.

“Migrant workers contribute greatly to the economy and they are a part of society.

“We are trying to win the seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2025-2027. If we can do better, it will help us to win a seat.”

Sihasak’s comments underscored the inescapable influence of migration on current global issues and the importance of a comprehensive understanding to adequately address the problem.

In related news, Thailand is set to launch a new screening system aiming to differentiate refugees from illegal migrants; which could alter thousands of lives.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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