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Approved Pakistani refugee family left in limbo

Trump policy and Thai avarice leaves approved Pakistani refugee family in limbo!

Wilson Chowdhry

4-Feb-2017

A Pakistani Christian refugee family of four who fled their homeland and spent years living as marginalized refugees in Thailand, have been left distraught and uncertain for their future despite being one of very few Pak-Christian families to be approved for resettlement by the 'United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR).

Many thousands of refugees have fearfully waited through the U.S.' lengthy and complex refugee vetting process that takes a minimum of 18 months to clear, but now face a 120 day wait for news of their future after Donald Trump executed an order preventing any refugee resettlement.

Cyril Kamran, his wife, Samina, and two children (aged 17 and 9), fled Pakistan in December 2013 and sought safety in the Asian nation of Thailand, where they have been living a life of re-persecution ever since.

Open Doors USA ranks Pakistan as the fourth most dangerous nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, Human Rights Watch reportsthat Thailand's refugee policies make refugees in the country "vulnerable to arbitrary and abusive treatment."

Kamran and his wife both suffer with poor health, and Thailand's policies prevent them from getting jobs and from being able to support their family. However, there was nowhere else for the family to go due to a passport that limits travel abroad and the costly price of air travel. Kamran, said (sic):

"...the health condition of me and my wife is not good, my left hip joint is artificial and from last one year I feel severe pain.

"In my last medical examination at Bangkok Christian Hospital arranged by IOM, they identify that the joint is loose and that I need surgery again but the surgery needs time so that's why they advise me that we will refer your case to US for surgery.

"Due to that pain I am unable to lay on the even on a comfortable bed so how can I spend one week on the floor of IDC."

"Samina Cyril (my wife) she is suffering with AIHA (Autoimmune hemolytic anemia) since 2002 and she is on Prednisolone (Steroids) and during her last check up at Bangkok Christian Hospital doctor diagnosed her that she is having a heart issues and she is on the risk of heart attack due to long term use of steroids. Her immune system is very [weak] and she is not able to stay at IDC, because the condition of IDC is very unhygienic.

The Royal Thai government has now demanding the family pay a overstay fine of upwards of £1369 ($1,700) for being illegal immigrants who have crossed the period of their initial three-month visa. Failure to pay the fine means the family could be forced to spend one week detained at an immigration detention center.

Cyril Kamran, also said:

"Majority of the [refugees] don't have the visas and if you don't have visa that means you are under constant threat,"

"We are still experiencing this fear on daily bases. Your children cannot go out for play and you live in your apartment all the time with the doors locked from outside most of the time."

"There are no job opportunities for us. If you are caught during work then again, it's a big problem for employee and employers," he added.

"Employers exploited our status and sometimes they didn't pay anything at the end of the month and threaten asylum seekers and the refugee community [by saying] 'If you ask for money, we will call the police and they will arrest you.'"

Kamran and his family represent a rare instance in which a Pakistani Christian refugee family has received approval from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to be resettled.

The family participated in a cultural orientation course at a resettlement support center run by UNHCR on January 26th 2107 and were told that they would receive a travel plan in two to three weeks following the course.

Kamran said that the family was expecting to finally be resettled in the United States sometime in February.

"All the steps for resettlement is done and we are only waiting for the tickets," he explained. "They informed us that we are going to Albuquerque, New Mexico."

Kamran's family took part in the orientation course last Thursday, the following day Trump announced that he would ban refugee resettlement from all countries for 120 days in order for a review of the refugee vetting process to take place.

This has placed Kamran and his family in a position of limbo and they are praying that Trumps administration place authorize their new resettlement process within the 12 days that they might finally escape to a place of safety.

Kamran and his family are at risk of having to stay a week at the immigration detention center in Thailand, as they likely will not be able to afford their overstay fine.

"The conditions of IDC, health conditions are very bad. As I work once a month at Tzu Chi free community clinic as an interpreter and the maximum of the patients who came out on bail from IDC even in the last year, they all have so many skin problems.

Scabies is the most common disease. Patients of Scabies are still fighting with these issues after [being] bailed out from IDC. A room for 20 to 30 is filled with 80 to 90 detainees. They also cut down the water supply for days they treated asylum seekers and refugees like animals."

"My daughter is 17 years old and we are unable to take risk to send her to IDC because in past, we heard so many sexual harassment cases in IDC," he added.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"Life for Pakistani Christians is already extremely difficult. For the thousands of them who escape to Thailand life is filled with further persecution.

"Thai Authorities have been approached by several charities including the BPCA, all of whom have sought a waiver of the overstay fees for those being resettled which we believe serves no purpose but to tax victims of persecution. They are not responding."

"This further blow has demoralized the family of Kamran however our hope is that Trump makes good on his promise to tackle the ongoing persecution of Christians. One manifestation of such help would be prioritizing Christian and other minority asylum seekers even from the 7 banned nations.

"Christians and Yazidis have nowhere else where they can flee to where they will be safe. Buddhists nations, Muslim nations and Hindu nations are all exhibiting fear and suspicion of minorities often leading to persecution.

""Such priority should be coupled with improved training, policy and guidance so that fake converts do not railroad the system." (Click here for more info on Britain's new guidance on Christian convert asylum applications)

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