Aid agency pledges to serve Hmong in Laos


BANGKOK -- The Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR) has pledged to continue to help more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong asylum-seekers who were recently repatriated from northern Thailand to Laos.

COERR, the only aid group assisting the asylum-seekers, was refused access to Huay Nam Khao camp in Phetchabun province as the Thai army deported them on Dec. 28.

“We don’t have any capacity to stop the (forcible repatriation) as it’s the right of the government,” said Bishop Joseph Phibul Visitnonthachai of Nakhon Sawan, COERR executive director.

Nevertheless, COERR is “discussing with UNICEF about getting permission to go to Laos and work with (the deportees) for some time to ensure that they are safe, able to live there and treated humanely,” he told UCA News.

The Hmong had claimed they would be victimized by the Laos regime if they were returned. Thailand has said it has assurances from the Laotian authorities that they would not be mistreated.

Don't miss a thing! Get NCR's free newsletter.

The UN has urged the Thai authorities to detail those assurances.

Bishop Phibul said COERR is also coordinating efforts with Medecins Sans Frontieres(Doctors without Borders) to see if the Hmong had encountered problems during the move.

Medecins Sans Frontieres was taking care of this group until COERR took over this role last June, according to Siwa Boonlert, a COERR field worker.

“COERR has provided health care and food for the 4,000 Hmong in the camp,” he said. Around 10 percent of them already had refugee status with the UNHCR.

Whatever their status, “we have to provide humanitarian support,” Siwa said. The Thai government considered everyone in the Hmong camp as “illegal immigrants,” he added.

Bishop Phibul said the Thai government has tried to repatriate the Hmong for a long time using psychological methods.

The government told the Hmong the Thai people did not accept them, and the Thai people that the Hmong were the cause of crimes and infectious diseases, he said.

Since 2005, Thailand has repatriated 17 groups of Hmong to Laos.

Many Laotian Hmong who had fought for the US during the Vietnam War fled in 1975 when the communist Pathet Lao took over the country. Thousands have been resettled in the United States.

A Lao government spokesperson told international media that the concerns for the Hmong’s welfare were “groundless.” They would be housed in resettlement villages, he said.

[Article printed from Union of Catholic Asian News:]

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017