HOST International, with the support of Thailand’s Department of Children and Youth, has made it possible for 27 families (51 children and 26 adults, all mothers or female caregivers and one father) to be released from immigration detention and government shelters into the Thai community.

HOST International, working under the auspice of Peaceway Foundation, was established in January 2019 to provide a community-based support alternative for refugees and asylum seekers who had been detained in immigration detention. The program is focused on ensuring the overall well-being of refugee families in Thailand who have been released from detention and is working closely with the government to ensure that they are appropriately monitored and that there is no need for them to be re-detained or deported. The aim is to demonstrate that community-based alternatives to detention are possible, reliable, affordable and appropriate in this context. It is part of HOST’s overall work on delivering innovative and practical solutions.

Nay Mun is a Montagnard refugee from the highlands in Vietnam who fled due to religious persecution. His wife and son were one of the 27 families released and he was supposed to remain in detention with the other fathers. Due to a severe medical condition he was the only male released but remained at the hospital for several months. It was a very stressful time for Nay Mun, as he told his story to HOST Thailand’s case management team. He felt lonely and isolated and because of his refugee status, he couldn’t legally work and is reliant on the support services of HOST and other organisations in the community.

Partnered with the Coalition of the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP), HOST has also played a central role in coordinating the diverse array of stakeholders that work with urban refugees and have provided support to these families since release. This coordination role has ensured that the complex needs of the families following transition into the community, including accommodation, income support, bail reporting, health issues, life skills, legal issues, identification documents and education, have been met in an effective and efficient manner.

Additionally, HOST has also provided emergency relief support to fill gaps in service provision, including providing a community transition package of essential material items, and emergency relief payments to cover basic needs, accommodation, transport.

“HOST International is excited to play an integral role in the transition of mothers from immigration detention and reuniting them with their children so they can live independently in the community,” says Jason Spierings, HOST International Thailand’s Country Manger.

“We believe that all refugees have a right to basic dignity and hope and will plan to continue this work with other refugees and asylum seekers that are released from immigration detention, including the fathers of these families.”

HOST will continue to work with the DCY to develop an appropriate system for ensuring these families are supported in the community and can be joined by their fathers who are currently unable to participate in the program. HOST has also begun supporting livelihoods and vocational training programs for urban refugees in the Greater Bangkok area in close collaboration with other community service organisations to help refugees maintain their independence and dignity.