Thailand cave rescue: Stateless boys and coach could be granted citizenship

Thailand cave rescue: Stateless boys and coach could be granted citizenship

Thai government may fast-track citizenship for three of the rescued boys and their young coach, who are technically stateless

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Thai Navy Seals rescued the 12 boys and their coach using diving equipment.
Photo: AP

Thailand is considering giving citizenship to the coach and three stateless members of the Wild Boars football team who were rescued from the flooded Tham Luang cave after more than two weeks underground.

The players Pornchai Kamluang, Adul Sam-on and Mongkhol Boonpiam, plus their coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, come from northern Thailand’s border regions next to Myanmar, where laws are not enforced very strictly. They are legally stateless and not considered citizens under Thai law, leaving them without many of the rights their teammates enjoy.

The three boys have Thai ID cards, which grant them some basic rights, but the coach has no legal status, which makes deportation out of Thailand possible. He is also technically ineligible to receive some public services.

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Venus Sirsuk, the director of the Bureau of Registration at the Thai interior ministry, confirmed his office was looking into granting citizenship to the four. “Right now, the officials in Mae Sai district office are looking into their birth evidence. We have to see whether they were born in Thailand, and whether they have either a Thai father or mother.”

Asked how long it would take, he replied, “I have no idea. It depends on whether we find the documents.”

Boys rescued from the Thai cave wear masks and rest at a hospital in Chiang Rai
Photo: Reuters

Currently, the 12 footballers, aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old football coach Ekkapol Chanthawong are under medical care at Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Muang district.

Blood test results of the first four rescued boys have shown no signs of infectious diseases, doctors say.

All were in good spirits, permanent secretary for public health, Jessada Chokdamrongsuk, said in a briefing yesterday. Blood results of the remaining eight boys and the coach are due in the next few days, he said.

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However, the 13 will not be discharged until doctors are confident of a full recovery. They must still complete a seven-day course of antibiotic treatment, particularly three of the boys who were diagnosed with lung inflammations.

Of the last group brought out from the cave on Tuesday, three were being treated for ringing in the ears, which was brought on by mild fever. They should recover in the next few days, Dr Chokdamrongsuk said.

Edited by Jamie Lam

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