The Involuntary Immobility of Bangkok’s Urban Refugees

This report examines the experiences of involuntary immobility of urban refugees living in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand has not ratified the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Additional Protocol and lacks the legal and administrative mechanisms to identify and protect refugees. As a consequence, Bangkok’s refugees are criminalized and regarded as irregular migrants as a matter of Thai law. Caught between an inability to return home and settle in a third country, they live with circumscribed political and legal rights, limited agency, and restricted mobility within the city. This report has three objectives: (1) to conceptualize immobility as a state of being that shapes the rights, agency, and mobility of urban refugees, (2) to broadly describe the immobility experiences of Bangkok’s urban refugees, and (3) to explore some of the ways UNHCR, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society groups help refugees navigate Thailand’s restrictive immigration framework. 

Published 2019-01-09