Cambodian children are transported in a Thai immigration vehicle in southern Thailand
BANGKOK – Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew is planning to use the government’s childcare and development center to care for the children of illegal migrants.
According to the National New Bureau of Thailand Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew said the children of illegal migrants, ages between 3 and 12, will be in the ministry’s custody while their parents are being detained.
The move is aimed at providing what they need for growth and development. The childcare and development center at the Immigration Bureau on Soi Suan Plu is the primary childcare facility.
The center cares for an average of 20 – 25 migrant children each day.
In September of 2014 Human Rights Watch reported that every year, Thailand submits thousands of migrant youths and refugee seekers, to arbitrary detention in immigration facilities or police lock-ups due to their immigration status or that of their parents.
The majority of these children come from countries next door, such as Cambodia and Myanmar, and the experience is traumatizing, contributing to lasting anxiety and depression, as well as stymieing their growth and development.
While hundreds of refugee children, including Khmer Krom, Hmong and Rohingya, are indefinitely detained for months or more, even larger numbers of children are cycled through the system in a couple of days or weeks, the report says.
At least 2,500 children from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos pass through the largest detention center in Bangkok each year before being repatriated.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of some of the poor conditions in its detention centres, but added: “Detention of some small number of migrant children in Thailand is not a result of the Government’s policies but rather, the preference of their migrant parents.”
HRW is urging an end to the detainment, which the group says could be replaced by more humane alternatives like conditional release or family shelters.
“Hostile and violent detention centers are no place for children to grow up,” Human Rights Watch said.