Operation: Opération: Thailand



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
16,160 persons acquired nationality countrywide
8,360 stateless persons received assistance to prepare citizenship applications 
3,530 refugee children from Myanmar were registered and provided with birth certificates
3,340 stateless persons participated in legal counselling sessions
1,350 urban refugees with specific needs were assisted through cash-based interventions
550 refugee children living in urban areas attended Thai schools
2019 planning figures
10,000  stateless persons will receive counselling and assistance to prepare citizenship applications
10,000 refugees from Myanmar will be assisted to return home if conditions allow
3,500 refugee children from Myanmar will be registered and provided with birth certificates to facilitate their access to durable solutions
2,770 vulnerable urban refugees will be assisted through cash-based interventions to help them survive

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2018 582,130
2017 593,241
2016 599,459


[["Refugees",53328],["Refugee-like situation",48917],["Asylum-seekers",944],["Stateless",478843],["Others of concern",98]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[32.79272407,38.36345908,30.69063927,33.24908962,22.93266875,19.58958646],"expenditure":[14.28995824,14.03384161,13.1905066,13.24290793,12.47772996,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[32.08266511,37.16554185,29.10028416,32.07457355,21.89347811,18.66908242],"p2":[0.71005896,1.19791723,1.59035511,1.17451607,1.03919064,0.92050404],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[13.77084946,13.51599089,12.22130649,12.30524211,11.7133277,null],"p2":[0.51910878,0.51785072,0.96920011,0.93766582,0.76440226,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational environment

The political, security, and economic context in Thailand remained largely stable throughout 2018.
In the absence of an adequate protective legal framework, urban refugees and asylum-seekers continued to be arrested and detained.
Interest in returns to Myanmar continued to gradually increase, but were hampered by questions about the process, amongst other obstacles.
The Government’s strong political will to resolve statelessness resulted in solutions, further reducing the number of stateless persons. Addressing bottlenecks in the system would further accelerate this process.
In 2018, UNHCR started to re-profile its presence at the border; the office in Mae Sariang was closed at year-end, and activities will be covered by the field office in Mae Hong Son as of beginning of 2019.

Population trends

The total population of concern in Thailand stood at some 580,250 at year-end, a slight decrease from the end of 2017. This included close to 102,250 refugees and more than 478,800 stateless persons.

Close to 98,000 verified Myanmar refugees reside in border areas, with reductions largely due to resettlement departures.

The urban population continued to decrease, in part due to resettlement departures and voluntary repatriation. A significant backlog in RSD case processing was resolved, allowing for more efficient assessment of new cases.

The figure of Government-registered stateless persons decreased with nearly 16,160 persons acquiring nationality countrywide in 2018 - a record since the adoption of Thailand’s 2005 national strategy to address statelessness.

Key achievements

  • UNHCR and partners provided inputs to the Government towards the finalisation of an MoU on alternatives to detention for children.
  • Support was provided to the Government in developing a national screening mechanism. Once established, it is hoped that the screening mechanism will regularize in some form the stay of people of concern in Thailand and improve the predictability of asylum space, in line with customary international law and Thailand’s human rights obligations.
  • 93 refugees returned to Myanmar in 2018, while preparations continued for future movements. Bilateral cooperation mechanisms continued to improve.

Unmet needs

Shortages in funding, but mainly continuing restrictions in formal self-reliance opportunities as well as access to health care, meant that the needs of many urban refugees and asylum-seekers continued to be unaddressed.
With regard to statelessness, due to funding constraints, UNHCR was unable to undertake missions to identify and support stateless persons as often as required. 


Working environment

Continued stabilization in parts of Southeast Myanmar could provide favorable conditions for facilitated voluntary repatriation of refugees residing in nine camps on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Progress made on Thailand’s commitments will continue to improve protection for people of concern in urban areas.
In 2016, the Government of Thailand endorsed UNHCR’s “#IBelong Campaign to End Statelessness” and adopted the policy goal of “zero statelessness”, making a series of changes to better integrate and increase acquisition of Thai nationality for stateless persons. Since 2012, over 30,000 formerly stateless persons in Thailand have acquired citizenship. The Government is also expected to continue to demonstrate strong political will to resolve statelessness in 2018.

Key priorities

UNHCR will continue facilitating voluntary returns if safety and dignity can be assured. Maintaining adequate resources to ensure that the most vulnerable are able to access repatriation support and services in all camps will be critical.
  • In the absence of a formal national asylum framework, UNHCR will continue to undertake refugee status determination for urban refugees, while supporting the Government in its efforts to establish a national screening mechanism.
  • UNHCR will continue to work with the Government to seek alternatives to detention for persons of concern.
  • UNHCR will seek ways to support the government in accelerating efforts to resolve statelessness. 
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