Friday, January 01, 2010

Increasing numbers of North Korean refugees to Thailand

An increasing number of North Korean refugees are arriving in northern Thailand, fleeing poverty and political oppression at home.

Thai immigration authorities say they took more than 1,000 North Koreans into custody this year, compared with less than 400 in 2008 when Beijing tightened security for the Olympics.

Police superintendent Sutham Chatarsa says they come to Thailand because, unlike in China and Laos, they will not be sent home, where they could face execution.

"We don't have the policy to send them back to North Korea," he said. "We want to take care of them until they are accepted into a third country. It's not the same as people coming from Cambodia or Laos. North Koreans come here because of political problems. So, we want them to get to a third country."

Even so, the North Koreans are treated as illegal immigrants before being allowed to go to South Korea or another country.

Lawmakers from 12 countries met in Thailand in November to raise attention to the plight of North Koreans fleeing their impoverished and repressive nation.


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