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Growing amount of homeless Westerners in Thailand

According to The Nation newspaper there are a growing number of tourist and retirees falling on hard times in Thailand and finding themselves homeless.

The head of a non-government group working with homeless and displaced people said that the country should change its mindset to help these people, at least with initial assistance, and especially with the Asean Economic Community fast approaching.

It is believed that there could be up to thirty homeless foreigners in Chiang Mai and there have been other reported sightings of foreigners living on the streets in both Phuket and Chon Buri.

Natee Saravari, secretary-general of the Issarachon Foundaion said “They walk or sit in shopping malls during the daytime and scavenge through garbage for food at night”. He explained that most of the homeless are Western men who arrived as tourist or retirees and fell into poverty or neglect after settling in Thailand. Some of them, he added, have been duped or robbed by Thai former wives or partners.

The homeless receive meager amounts of money from sympathetic foreigners who are aware of their situation but there is certainly no government agency or even a policy in place that deals with these kinds of cases. Natee said that due to the “Thai-state-mentality” there is no law or mechanism to help homeless foreigners and when found by the police they are generally arrested and deported. He went on to suggest that amendment to the laws and government policies would be required in the long run, and ad-hoc mechanisms put in place in the meant time to deal with such cases in order to provide immediate assistance as the as the AEC2015 is nearing assistance should be given immediately for such people he said.

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