UN refugee agency appeals for access to returned Lao Hmong

Geneva, Tuesday 29 December 2009

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has today formally approached the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic seeking access to Lao Hmong who were deported from Thailand on Monday. Among those people sent back are individuals recognized by UNHCR as being in need of international protection.

UNHCR is also calling on the Government of Thailand to provide details of assurances received from the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic within the framework of a bilateral agreement between the two governments concerning the treatment of the returned Lao Hmong. UNHCR has asked to be informed of steps taken by the Government of Thailand to ensure that commitments made under this framework are effectively honoured.

Thailand has a long history as a country of asylum. However, on Monday it deported some 4000 Lao Hmong from two camps, one in the northern province of Petchabun and another in Nong Khai in the country's northeast. UNHCR was given no access to people in the first camp, while those in Nong Khai were all recognized refugees. UNHCR has no formal presence in Laos.