Thai students return home amid escalating Israel-Hamas conflict

Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESRI) Adviser Pechdau Tohmeena. Photo taken from Bangkok Post.

Thirty-three Thai students, who had been in Israel amidst the escalating conflict with Hamas, safely arrived back in Thailand yesterday. They were part of a larger contingent of 244 Thai nationals who flew back on a special charter flight from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

The students, including 30 from the Princess of Naradhiwas University and the rest from Sakonnakhon Rajabhat University, had been residing in Israel as part of a training programme at the Arava International Centre for Agricultural Training in Sapir, a community settlement in the nation’s southern region. Their location was approximately 100 kilometres away from the areas of intense conflict.

However, not all students made it back, as 82 of their Thai classmates had not completed the necessary paperwork for the government to facilitate their return.

The Senate had previously urged the government to evacuate over 100 students from the training centre in the Arava Desert. Despite the area being deemed safe, Senators Songdetch Samuerkham and Ronwarit Pariyachadtrakul expressed concerns in a meeting about the potential for the situation to rapidly deteriorate, potentially stranding the students.

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In response, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESRI) is coordinating with the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) to plan the evacuation of additional students from Israel’s southern provinces.

MHESRI adviser Pechdau Tohmeena has been tasked by Minister Supamas Isarabhakdi to compile information on students in the region. Dr Pechdau confirmed that the MHESRI had requested the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv to ensure special care for the students in Israel.

In related news, As the death toll of Thai workers in Israel rose, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin assured continuous efforts to evacuate Thai nationals from this conflict. 7,000 Thais have expressed their intentions to come home and airlines such as Thai Airways International, Nok Air, and Thai Air Asia have been integral in the repatriation process.

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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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