March 13, 2014 00:00 By Chularat Saengpassa The Natio
Foundation notes rise in poor left behind after protests
POLITICAL RALLIES have been pushing up the number of people living on Bangkok’s streets, according to the Issarachon Foundation.
“No matter who organises the rallies, every time there are big political demonstrations, some people are somehow left behind,” the foundation’s secretary-general Natee Saravari said yesterday.
For nearly two decades, the Issarachon Foundation has worked for the less fortunate, particularly people living in public areas. Last year, his foundation surveyed people roaming on Bangkok’s streets between July and December.
“When compared with 2012, the number had jumped by 284,” Natee said.
He said the significant increase stemmed partly from the political gatherings and many “homeless” members here were those who hailed from the South.
“They have told us that they initially came to Bangkok with relatives for the political rallies. They come from provinces like Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pattani, Songkhla and Phatthalung.
“Some of them have strayed from their relatives. Some have decided not to go back home because they have family problems,” Natee said.
He said that after the big political rallies in 2010, his foundation also found many demonstrators becoming homeless in Bangkok.
“The longer they are in Bangkok’s public areas, the harder it is for them to return to their real homes,” he said.
Families ‘must take them home’
Natee urged protest leaders and relatives to take these people home.
He released the information at a press conference held in collaboration with the Social Welfare and Development Department’s Ban Mit Maitree shelters yesterday.
Since the 2013 survey, 22 foreigners were found to have been living in Bangkok’s public areas.
“Some Sudanese said they were biding time to migrate to a third country, while some had decided to stay here because they did not want to go back to their native place,” Natee said.
He believed the Foreign Ministry should coordinate with relevant embassies so as to extend help to these homeless foreigners. They include nationals of Australia, Britain, Germany, the US and Sudan.
During the course of its work, the Issarachon Foundation also noticed several other problems that authorities should pay attention to.
“We have seen women and children from neighbouring countries begging for money around the Ratchaprasong and the Victory Monument areas,” he said.
With the People’s Democratic Reform Committee rallies going on in Bangkok now, Natee said his foundation had also received some complaints about the PDRC guards. Some of the guards allegedly attacked homeless people who have mental disorders, he said.
“They may not know that in fact these people are ill,” Natee said.
He added that many prostitutes also complained that the PDRC guards failed to pay them after getting sexual services and refused to use condoms.