Thailand on Wednesday granted citizenship to three of the 12 boys who were trapped for over two weeks in a flooded cave last month. Their 25-year-old coach, who too was stranded with the boys in the cave, also got citizenship.
During the international rescue mission, it was reported that the four were among the over 4.8 lakh stateless people in Thailand, most of them living in remote border areas. Chiang Rai, the region where the group was trapped in the cave, is near the country’s border with Laos and Myanmar.
This led to calls for the government to fast-track applications, AFP reported.
Local authorities approved their applications after checking their qualifications, including birth certificates. They were reportedly born in Thailand. They also got Thai national identification cards on Wednesday.
“They have all the qualifications,” Somsak Kanakam, chief officer of Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, told Reuters. “All children born in Thailand must have Thai birth certificates in order to qualify for Thai citizenship.”
Somsak told AFP that the cave incident had nothing to do with the decision. The government also approved citizenship requests of around 20 other people, he said.
The players from the Wild Boars football team – aged between 11 years and 16 years, and their 25-year-old coach – had walked into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand on June 23. They got trapped there as rising flood waters blocked their exit from the vast cave complex. Two British divers discovered them on July 3, but it was not until July 10 that the entire group was taken out after a three-day operation involving experts from several countries.