BANGKOK – A Zimbabwean family has been stranded at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport for over two months, after they unsuccessfully tried to fly to Spain to seek political asylum, an official confirmed to EFE on Thursday.
Colonel Cherngron Rimphadee, deputy spokesperson of the Immigration Bureau, told EFE that the family – four adults, and four children aged 2, 6, 7 and 11 years – has been interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In a statement, the Immigration Bureau has identified the head of the family as Muvadi Rodrick, who reached Bangkok in May with the family members.
Authorities said that the family had been under the care of Ukraine International Airlines – the airline that they had used twice to try to fly to Barcelona – and has not been held at the special area where other foreigners who are refused entry to Thailand are detained.
The family has not been able to leave the departure terminal of the airport in the last two months as their tourist visas to Thailand had expired.
Thai immigration police discovered that the visas had already expired when they tried to buy the UIA tickets to Barcelona – with a stopover at Kiev – on Oct. 23, but were not able to board as they did not have the visas to enter Spain.
On Nov. 7, they managed to board another UIA plane and reach Kiev, but were then made to return to Bangkok as they did not have the Spanish visas.
Thai police have said that the UNHCR is processing the family’s asylum request, given that they could face dangers in Zimbabwe, without offering further details.
On Nov. 21, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe resigned after a coup that ended his 37-year authoritarian rule, with promises of liberalization and economic recovery.
Thailand has not signed UN refugee protection treaties and as a result, the future of the family is uncertain even if they are recognized as political asylum seekers.