Thailand rejected an offer from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday to assist Cambodian refugees living in Thailand, a news agency reported.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ordered Interior Ministry officials not to sign a deal allowing the UNHCR to provide about $100,000 to help the refugees, Thai government spokesperson Jakrapob Penkair said in an Agence France Presse report.
Thaksin announced a couple of weeks ago that Thailand will no longer accept foreign grants or aid, particularly under unfavorable conditions, according to The Associated Press. “If the Thais refuse aid they are going against their agreement to help the Cambodian refugees,” said Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang. “It is their responsibility to do what they can to help.”
Cambodians from all over the country sought refuge in camps on Thailand’s borders as a result of the July 1997 factional fighting between forces loyal to the CPP and Funcinpec. Although some Cambodians in Thailand are war refugees, many claim they left the country for political reasons. Thousands of displaced Cambodians live in Thailand and are unable to fully support themselves.
Ung Bun-Ang said some of the refugees are active members of the Sam Rainsy Party but there is only so much the party can do to protect them. “We do not have authority in Thailand,” he said. “We give as much support as we can, but that is all we can do. “
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wednesday Thailand does not need the aid.
Thaksin said the UNHCR offer “isn’t cool,” the AP reported.
“If a foreign agency wants to help Thailand, they can do it by participating with us,” he told the AP on Wednesday. “But if we have to write ‘please come help me,’ we don’t want it.
“What we want is a partnership,” Thaksin said.
Officials from UNHCR’s Phnom Penh office were not available for comment.
Ung Bun-Ang said Thaksin’s decision is “a serious case against human rights.”