Thailand: Welcoming an Afghan baby in the Land of Smiles

14 August 2020

On January 14, 2019, JRS responded to the emergency needs of an Afghan family with a new-born baby. They fled Afghanistan because their lives were in danger. The husband was a procurement officer for a joint project of a private firm and the government. When the government decided to cancel the contracts of the joint project, the private business owners became outraged and attempted to kill him and destroy his properties. He realized there was no protection for him and his wife and they have to run away to save their lives. 

Two days after their arrival in Bangkok on January 8, 2019, the wife, who was pregnant, felt contractions and developed labour pains. As newcomers, they did not know much about Bangkok and other services. Her husband took her to the nearest hospital where their baby was born. 

They could not pay for the medical bills of THB 9,000 and the hospital cannot discharge them without payment. He managed to handle it by borrowing some money from someone he knew. They stayed in a nearby hostel for three nights while they looked for available services for asylum seekers. They received the address including a map of JRS from UNHCR and three of them rushed to the JRS office. 

By the time they arrived at the JRS office, the baby was only four days old. The family expressed their concern about accommodation and food because they had very little money in hand to continue staying at the hostel and they did not know where to rent an apartment room and how to pay the cost. The JRS caseworker who was serving them for their emergency collaborated with other colleagues in the team to find a room right away. They reserved a room and paid the rent for the client, and provided financial assistance for the nutrition of the baby and their transportation. 

They spent one more night at the hospital because there was not enough time to travel to the apartment room that JRS staff had arranged for them. After moving into the room the following day, the client gave his feedback that he appreciated the accommodation arrangement. It was spacious and clean for his newborn son and wife. After the emergency assistance, JRS served the family with regular casework and financial assistance until they were recognized as refugees by the UNHCR in April 2019. After being recognized, the client was encouraged to approach the Bangkok Refugee Centre (BRC) for Cash-Base Intervention (CBI). BRC granted monthly financial assistance to them. Now the husband’s family increased by two after his mother and brother flew from Afghanistan to join him in Bangkok. He is recommending them to register at JRS for assistance after receiving UNHCR cards.

(Image by Aditya Romansa / Unsplash)


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