BANGKOK – A Zimbabwean family of four adults and four minors traveled to the Philippines with the assistance of the United Nations after being stranded for three months at Suvarnabhumi Airport in the Thai capital, official sources said on Wednesday.
Colonel Cherngron Rimpadee, deputy immigration police spokesperson, told EFE that the Zimbabweans departed Monday and have been put up at a center of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Philippines, although it is unclear whether the Philippines is their destination country.
UNHCR sources told EFE that in order to protect the family no information can be made public.
According to Thai authorities, the family did not want to return to Zimbabwe for fear of reprisals following the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe in November after a military coup.
The family arrived with tourist visas to Thailand in May 2017 and on Oct. 23 they bought tickets from the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) to Barcelona via Kiev.
However, they were unable to make the journey as they did not have visas to enter Spain.
On the same day, immigration officials realized that their Thai visa had expired, so the family could not return to Bangkok and had to remain at the exit terminal.
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.
The story of the family went viral online after an airport worker posted on Facebook a photograph of him giving a Christmas gift to one of the children, which has received wide public attention in Thailand.