Thaksin Rejects Aid for Cambodian Refugees

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.”


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