Refugees in Thailand suffer from 'inhumane' conditions in detention centers

Many Christians have fled their homes in the Middle East in hopes of finding safe refuge, and some of them have reached Thailand. However, the Southeast Asian country does not provide asylum, thereby leaving a huge number of refugees in a dire situation.

A screengrab from an investigative report on the detained Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand. | YOUTUBE / BBC Urdu

According to CBN News, refugees with no tourist visa -- or those whose visas have expired -- are automatically deemed as an illegal immigrant and are arrested. Once caught, they are then taken to an Immigration Detention Center via a caged van.

Christian human rights advocates took photos of the condition inside the IDF facility. Some men are reportedly "chained like dogs," and in some cases, somewhere around 200 people occupy rooms meant for half that number or less. Previously, the British Pakistani Christian Association posted photos and described the condition in Thai detention centers in hopes of raising funds.

"So they are sleeping one on top of each other, or they'll be sleeping crouching or standing up," said Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA. "The stench as you walk in is overpowering. They have two toilets to serve over 200 people."

One man who experienced living inside the IDF facility is Mustaq Faisal, who fled Pakistan with his wife and son.

"The moment we arrived in Thailand I submitted our asylum application with the U.N.," Faisal told CBN News.

The Faisal family waited for three months until their tourist visas expired. The police then came into their apartment at a time when he was not home, and his wife was arrested despite informing the authorities that she is a heart patient. At the IDC, the condition of Faisal's wife worsened, but authorities at the facility would not do anything despite him asking them for help. He also asked the U.N. to help her.

"What we found is that the wardens protecting, meant to be protecting these detainees, deny them access to healthcare and medicines," Chowdhry told the news network.

According to Catholic Online, the response from the U.N. came roughly a year after Faisal filed his application; however, his wife already passed away.

There is an estimated 11,000 Pakistanis seeking refuge in Thailand, many of which are Christians. Some are hiding, crammed in small apartments, for fear of getting arrested. Their kids cannot go to school because they, too, are considered illegal immigrants. Six other Pakistani Christians have reportedly died inside detention centers in the country.

While Faisal agrees with Chowdry that "there no one else is to blame" and that "the responsibility lies with the royal Thai authorities," the widow also blames the U.N., saying, "They killed my wife because they were responsible for our protection."

Thailand has not signed the United Nations Convention on Human Rights 1951 regarding the status of refugees and asylum seekers.