Vietnamese refugees in Thailand are facing delays in renewing identity cards issued by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Bangkok, and the pandemic-related suspension of processing has exposed many to the possibility of arrest by Thai authorities.
Tran Van Long, 64, originally from Dong Nai province, told VOA Vietnam, “My card has been expired for more than a week, but I called all offices and no one answered. Most cards of refugees here have expired like mine.”
Vietnamese authorities released Long after he served 20 years of a life sentence for joining a group the government considered reactionary. Due to police harassment, he said, he left Vietnam and the UNHCR granted him granted temporary refugee status in January 2021 after a years-long application process.
Long said he had been unable to contact anyone at the UNHCR office in Bangkok. “It is very difficult. They’ve been closed recently, so I couldn’t ask, and I couldn’t call them at all.”