Ministry joins project to help the homeless
State and non-govt groups use high technology to aid street people
Alarmed at the spread of the street population of cross-dressers, children of migrant workers, and even foreigners, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry is launching a large-scale outreach project with NGOs as an initiative to mark Homeless Day yesterday.
Among the measures to promote greater concern by the general public is a mobile application under development that could send photos of homeless people with their location automatically marked to the ministry, said Ngamjit Teasuwan, head of the ministry-run Mit Maitree central shelter.
The ministry could then provide them with emergency or long-term assistance, she said.
The app is expected to be ready early next year.
Identities to be kept confidential
All the information on the homeless, their identities and locations would be kept confidential to ensure privacy and dignity.
"Those caring for the homeless can snap photos of people they find and send the shots easily using this app, before shelter workers are dispatched to them to take initial or sustaining care," she added.
Natee Saravari, manager of the Issarachon Foundation, one of the non-governmental organisations, said some 200 Western men were reported as living on the sois, mostly because they were duped into marrying local women and were later abandoned or abused by their spouses.
Katoeys are also turning to prostitution, while poor migrant workers tend to churn out children despite lacking the ability to raise them properly. The foundation reported finding 2,846 homeless last year, many of whom are among the three new groups.
About 30,000 homeless are reported by the ministry and NGOs. Natee said the exact figure would be known soon once the data for this year were completely compiled.
Panya Ganggorn, a senior ministry legal adviser, said there was |no law dedicated to helping out the homeless and a bill was coursing through the legislative process |that would require an adequate number of state-run shelters to be set up and concrete measures to be issued to help them out of homelessness.
All foreigners or migrants would also be entitled to all the rights granted to Thais.
At a Homeless Day event held near Sanam Luang, fresh food, daily supplies, winter clothing and a small allowance were handed out to the many residents sleeping out and hanging around there.
They were also given free haircuts.