Dear Friends, Thank you all for stepping up and voicing your concern for the welfare of North Korean refugees in Thailand. Last month, on April 23, I traveled to Bangkok and met with officials at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing all of our concern over the treatment and processing of North Korean refugees, and personally delivered the attached final letter. We have not been able to send updates thus far because of the sensitive nature of the cases in question, but I am pleased to finally be able to deliver some news. Your letter, in conjunction with congressional inquiries from members of both the House and Senate, helped to break through serious delays, and the refugees our organization is supporting have gained a renewed sense of hope and optimism. Processing of their cases has sped up to a deliberate pace on the American side, and the Thai government has pledged active facilitation and cooperation of interviews and exit visas. We are seeing these commitments bear fruit as refugees are seeing interviews, background checks and status changes in real-time. North Korean refugees bound for the Republic of Korea have also been seeing exponentially-increased rates of transit and exceptionally-quick approval times for exit visas.
We are making significant progress, and for that we thank you. It is often difficult to see the fruits of petitions and letters, but in this case, your signature helped to bring added pressure to resolve a humanitarian crisis that was growing increasingly desperate and difficult. We will continue to stay in touch with news of similar situations in the future!
That represents a vast improvement in matters since March, when Thai detention centers were overcrowded with refugees South Korea wasn’t prepared to accept.