SINGAPORE: Three of the 13 people rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex may be given Thai citizenship within six months, Thai news site The Nation reported on Friday (Jul 13).
The 12 schoolboys and their coach are in a hospital following a three-day rescue operation that concluded on Tuesday. All 13 of them were found by British divers after being trapped for nine days.
Three of them, Pornchai Kamluang, Adul Sam-on and coach Ekapol Chanthawong, are stateless, the report said, citing confirmation from the Thailand Interior Ministry and the Children and Youth Department.
Authorities have promised to provide the three of them with legal assistance through the nationality verification process, the report said. The boys may be granted their citizenship if there are no complications in their documents, the report added.
There are currently around 500,000 stateless persons in Thailand, the report said. Many stateless people in the country come from areas where national borders have changed or remote areas with limited access to information on nationality procedures, the United Nations has said.
It can take up to 10 years for stateless people to obtain citizenship in Thailand, The Nation reported. This is mainly due to the slow verification process, hampered by the insufficient staff at local administrative organisations to handle the overwhelming number of requests for national verification.
The verification process requires individuals to provide proof that they were born to a Thai national parent, The Nation said, citing human rights activist Surapong Kongchantuk.
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Or they could also apply by submitting their bachelor's degree or diploma, or ask for a special grant from the Thai government, the Thai media outlet said.
Surapong said the lack of citizenship means that stateless persons are denied access to many fundamental rights such as travelling abroad, getting higher education or employment in some careers.
READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation: