Thai soccer team's stateless boys granted citizenship

Lester Mason
August 9, 2018

Three boys from a football team, who were rescued from Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand last month, were granted Thai citizenship along with their 25-year-old coach on Wednesday.

The boys and coach were among 13 people who were trapped in the cave for several weeks, surviving by drinking water that dripped from the walls of the cave, until they were found by scuba divers after a round-the-clock global rescue effort.

Ekapol and 12 boys had gone to explore the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai province on June 23, when a rainy-season downpour flooded the cave system and trapped them underground.

They were found by two British divers nine days later, but it took another six days to rescue the first team members.

A dramatic, worldwide rescue effort ended on July 10 when they were all brought out safely after an ordeal lasting more than two weeks.

During the global rescue mission, it was reported that the four were among the over 4.8 lakh stateless people in Thailand, majority living in remote border areas.


Local authorities approved their applications after checking their qualifications, including birth certificates.

Somsak told AFP that the "Wild Boars incident" had nothing to do with the development and said they had merely qualified.

The four were also given Thai national identification cards on Wednesday. The births of Adul, Mongkon and Pornchai were registered at Mae Sai and Wiengpankham municipalities and they were granted Thai citizenship after they presented their birth certificate to the district chief.

Nopparat said he submitted documentation on Wednesday to help apply for citizenship for seven other Wild Boar players who are stateless. Some belong to "hill tribes" living in remote areas with limited access to information about nationality procedures, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The three boys and coach were born in Thailand, according to the Associated Press, but did not have citizenship, which deprived them of some benefits and rights like the ability to travel outside the region.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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