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U.N. refugee agency welcomes Thai move to give cave boys citizenship

10 August, 2018, 06:51 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • 4 Wild Boars Granted Thai Citizenship: Official

Thailand has granted citizenship to the coach and three members of a football team dramatically rescued from a flooded cave last month.

The head coach of the Wild Boars soccer team, said, they received their official Thai ID cards along with another team member, who had also applied for citizenship but was not in the cave, reported Fox News.

Ekapol and 12 boys had gone to explore the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai province on June 23, when a rainy-season downpour flooded the cave system and trapped them underground.

The party was strolling inside the cave, following which they were trapped for nine days, before being found. An worldwide effort to rescue them ended on July 10 when they all were brought out safely.

Many of Thailand's stateless people are from nomadic hill tribes and other ethnic groups who have for centuries lived around the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China.

The three boys and their coach were among 13 boys who were saved in a dramatic rescue by Thai navy seals and global diving experts that ended on July 10 and received huge media attention worldwide.

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Mae Sai district chief Somsak Kanakham said they were granted citizenship according to the laws.

Ardoon Sam-aon, Mongkol Boompiam, Ponchai Khamluang, and assistant coach Ake Chanthawong were previously stateless because they had never applied to be Thai nationals.

The three boys obtained their birth certificates and used them as evidence to prove they were eligible to receive the Thai nationality, said Mr Somsak.

According to Thai government statistics, there are 488,105 stateless people registered in Thailand, but that number could be as high as 3.5 million, according to the International Observatory on Statelessness.

Somsak Kanakam, the district chief, said he approved the boys' applications after their authentication passed regulations, while the coach could prove that he and at least one of his parents were born in Thailand.

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