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Phuket officials scramble over missing Rohingya

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket officials scramble over missing Rohingya | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Officers at the Phuket Shelter for Children and Families on Koh Sireh this afternoon called an emergency meeting to discuss reports of Rohingya refugees disappearing from the center early yesterday morning.

The meeting was called when news reports surfaced that Muslim women and children were noticed missing from the shelter at about 2:30am.

The mass disappearance followed two other incidents since January of Rohingya refugees fleeing the shelter, never to return.

Some of the “escapees” were taken back into custody near a mosque in Phuket Town, said one report.

However, Phuket City Police Superintendent Sermphan Sirikong told the Phuket Gazette today that he had not received any reports of Rohingya being arrested in Phuket Town in the past few days.

“We were notified of the missing women and children, but I have yet to receive confirmation that any of them have been taken back into custody,” he said.

Jiranun Jeamcharoen, director of the welfare center on Koh Sireh, declined to confirm or deny the report, saying in a brief conversation with the Gazette that she was on her way into the meeting,

“We cannot give any comments to the public right now. We are now in the meeting. More information will be revealed as soon as possible,” said Ms Jiranun.

Reports of refugees fleeing the shelter came after ITN Channel 4 News in the UK broadcast a report (story here) highlighting the cramped conditions many Rohingya are facing in detention at the Phang Nga Immigration Office.

The program showed more than 270 Rohingya men being held in two wire-bound holding cells, each designed to hold only 15 men.

Many of the men in the cells barely had enough room to sit. Some had swollen feet and withered leg muscles due to lack of exercise. Some of the men said that they have not been let out of the cells in months.

Phuket Immigration chief Sunchai Chokkajaikij this morning expressed his concern for the Rohingya refugees being held at the detention cells at the Phuket Immigration Office on the south side of Phuket Town.

“We have 38 Rohingya refugees detained here, but the facility has no more room,” said Col Sunchai.

“We have already transferred 25 to the Immigration Police shelter in Ranong and 20 children were handed over to the Phuket Shelter for Children and Family [on Koh Sireh],” he explained.

“Right now, the shelters in other provinces have no more room for refugees. The shelter in Phang Nga has almost 300 Rohingya already,” Col Sunchai added.

Col Sunchai said his concern stemmed from the ongoing influx of Rohingya from Myanmar.

“I have no idea what we are going to do if they keep coming,” he said.

“Our superiors have reported the problem to the Cabinet. They told us they were going to talk to the United Nations and ask a third country to take them,” Col Sunchai explained.

“But it seems to be very difficult. No neighboring countries want to take them. In the end, they might end up staying in Thailand,” he added.

Immigration Bureau Commissioner Pharnu Kerdlarpphon was in Phuket last month for a closed-door meeting of high-ranking officials, after which he expressed his concern for the growing number of Rohingya refugees being detained in Thailand (story here).

“The shelters are supposed to be for temporary detention before illegal immigrants are deported, but in the case of the Rohingya, we cannot really deport them because their home country [Myanmar] does not welcome them,” he said.

Gen Pharnu confirmed that as of May 5, Thai Immigration had 1,936 Rohingya in custody across the country, including 399 boys and 304 girls.

“Now the Thai Government is in discussions with other countries to find a place the refugees can be transferred to.

“I have been assured that the Rohingya will be treated in a way that meets international-standards,” he said.

— Orawin Narabal

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Thailand

UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions

Caitlin Ashworth

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UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions | The Thaiger

UPDATE: Khaosod English removed a story on Covid-19 tests for those seeking visa extensions and replaced it with the article “Immigration backtracks on plan to require Covid-19 test for visa extensions.” They say the previous report sparked uproar among expats and immigration police spokesperson has since apologised for the misunderstanding.

Original article…

Confusion reigns today over whether Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions. While The Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are, indeed, now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits, even renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand. On the other hand, Phuket immigration deputy chief Nareuwat Putthawiro told The Phuket News that Covid-19 tests will not be required for visa extensions or work permit applications.

“We do not require any medical documents for an application to renew a visa, because there are few foreigners’ movements outside Phuket. Most of them live and work in Phuket, and have done so before the new wave of Covid-19… So they do not have to worry about it. Everything is still the same.”

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements for work permit applicants. But, on the other hand, Phuket immigration says they DO NOT require Covid-19 tests for work permit applicants.

“We have not received any notices about Covid-19 requirements for processing applications to renew visas. If we do receive any such orders, we will let the public know.”

It isn’t the first time there has been conflicting statements coming out of different officials, in different immigration offices on different days.

SOURCES: Phuket News| Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results

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Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

People arriving Phuket from the “highest risk” areas are required to take a swab test by the staff at emergency operation centres (EOC) or show the test result document endorsed by the EOC staff made within 72 hours of their arrival. The revised order is effective from now until January 31, according to the Phuket Governor.

Those people who are on a brief business trip to Phuket need to show certificates from their employers describing the reason and necessity of their trips. If they want to leave their accommodations, they have to make a request to the EOC and clearly explain the reason as well as the time and destination. Visitors are also asked to avoid going to the community areas to avoid crowded gatherings.

It is noted that the revised order by the governor has not been officially promoted by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department. However, all visitors are still asked to register online via the Mor Chana contact tracing application and via www.gophuget.com according to the order re-issued on Friday.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Tourism

The road less travelled – trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint

The Thaiger

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The road less travelled – trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | The Thaiger

There are two well known ways to get from Kathu to Kalim or Kamala – one is across the Patong Hill, and the other is much longer, through Srisoonthorn and along the coastal road from Surin the Kamala (very scenic too).

But there’s also another way. Also very scenic but will take you about 2 hours through dense forest although there is a well-worn walking track. The track will take you from Kathu up to the Kalim Viewpoint. From here you can head back to Kathu along a different path, or down into Kalim, near Patong.

Starting about halfway down Soi Namtok in Kathu, you head up a nondescript road past the Flying Hanuman zipline attraction, although there’s no sign at the entrance to the soi (below). About the first kilometre is paved but then becomes increasingly ‘agricultural’ as you get higher into the hills, heading towards the Kalim Viewpoint. There’s also a small temple on the way up.

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The start of the trek, a small soi off Soi Namtok – Google Maps

It will take around 2 hours to trek up to the Kalim Viewpoint. The walking is quite strenuous and you’ll need to be wearing the right shoes and take plenty of water – there’s no 7/11s on the way! As you get nearer the top, to the viewpoint, the track becomes less drivable although the track is still quite open and easy to follow. If you’re feeling a bit lazy you can take a motorbike about halfway up the road until you’ll need to proceed on foot from there.

From the Kalim Viewpoint you can see across Kalim to Patong Bay and the land that stretches along the bay south of Patong Beach. From the top you can either make your way down to Kalim or another exit along the Kalim-Kamala Road, just near the Iguana Beach Club.

You can also head back another way to Kathu, a longer return track that skirts around the top of the Kathu Waterfall. A lot of that track gets very narrow and parts of it are up and down the hills, some of it very steep.

The views are amazing and you get to see a vast swathe of Phuket, still very close to popular locations like Patong, Kamala and Kathu, but untouched by any civilisation.

You’ll need to be in reasonable health to take on the trip but, just to go up to the Kalim Viewpoint and back, or down into Kalim, should take around 5 hours in total. On a scale of 1 – 5 for difficulty, we’d rate it a 3. An easy trek for experienced people but will need a bit of planning if you’re not an experienced trekker.

Even on a hazy day, as it was today, the views were amazing. But best to start off early morning when the weather is cooler. Well worth the time for the views and the opportunity to see more of Phuket, away from the bars and beaches.

Thanks to BT for the pics and information.

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The ThaigerThe road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

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