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Overcrowding at Rohingya shelter raises slew of concerns

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Overcrowding at Rohingya shelter raises slew of concerns | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Overcrowding at the Phang Nga Shelter for Children and Family, which was housing more than 100 Rohingya refugees, has forced the shelter’s director to have more than 50 of them transferred to a welfare center in Surat Thani.

A bus with 13 Rohingya women, 19 boys and 20 girls is now en route to the Baan Srisurat shelter (website here), the director of the Phang Nga shelter told the Phuket Gazette this morning.

The Phang Nga shelter initially planned to transfer 55 refugees, but a misunderstanding over how this specific number would break refugee families apart forced a compromise, and 52 volunteers were sent to Baan Surat, Phang Nga shelter Director Dararat Sutheth said explained.

“We had a tough night last night. Police officers had to be called in. Once the refugees saw the officers in uniform, they calmed down. We settled the issue by agreeing to have only volunteers sent to Surat Thani. The 52 people departed at 9am today,” Ms Dararat, said.

“The shelter in Surat Thani is a refuge for human-trafficking victims. It is the shelter’s policy to accept only women and girls, as well as boys not over 10 years old,” Ms Dararat explained.

Despite the transfer this morning, the Phang Nga shelter remains heavily overcrowded, with 54 refugees still staying at the center (story here).

“Our shelter can comfortably accommodate only about 20 people… We have one big room, as well as three small rooms. The big room can comfortably fit only about 13 people, so the rest have to sleep on the floor in the corridors; on the stairs; and even in front of the toilet,” Ms Dararat said.

“I have heard that more are coming, but I have yet to be told how many. This is why we had to move some of the refugees to another shelter,” she explained.

The overcrowding has raised health concerns, despite a medical team attending to the refugees by treating a range of afflictions brought on by weeks at sea in open boats.

“Many of them are suffering skin diseases, and have serious stomach issues and diarrhea, as well as vomiting, due to the fact that they had been drinking the sea water,” Ms Dararat said.

However, four refugees at the Phang Nga Immigration center have been diagnosed with malaria – an affliction those at the Phang Nga shelter seem to have successfully avoided.

“So far, no contagious diseases have been found here at the shelter. Yesterday, we had a medical team check the 106 refugees and conduct blood tests for malaria. Anyone found to have malaria, including those sent to Surat Thani, will receive medical treatment,” Ms Dararat confirmed.

The donations of clothing and daily necessities that have been flooding in are greatly appreciated, she added.

For details of how to donate items to go to the welfare of Rohingya refugees, click here.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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