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Thailand: providing vital services to people in detention
January 13, 2014

Thailand: providing vital services to people in detention
The JRS clinic is currently the primary source of medical and psychological care for an average 70,000 detainees each year at the Bangkok detention center.
For more than 30 years, JRS has worked to care for the asylum seekers and forced migrants who have overstayed their visas in Thailand and been detained. Victims of human trafficking also find themselves in the country without documents and are detained. The men, women and children in the IDC may be held there indefinitely.

(Washington, D.C.) January 13, 2014 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA secured a grant from the J. Homer Butler Foundation that enabled Jesuit Refugee Service to provide medical care for detainees in Thailand’s largest immigration detention center, IDC Bangkok, which hosts an average of 1,000 detainees each day.

The generous grant of $15,000 from the J. Home Butler Foundation was augmented by $12,432 from Jesuit Missions Austria and $82,657 from a private Thai foundation.

For more than 30 years, JRS has worked to care for the asylum seekers and forced migrants who have overstayed their visas in Thailand and been detained. Victims of human trafficking also find themselves in the country without documents and are detained. The men, women and children in the IDC may be held there indefinitely.

The overall goal of the project is to improve the physical and psychological well being of detainees by increasing their access to health and social services, and by providing medical treatment, supplementary meals and social activities.

The JRS clinic is currently the primary source of medical and psychological care for an average 70,000 detainees each year who are housed in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. The clinic’s full-time medical staff provides hygiene supplies, medicines and vital outpatient medical and mental health services such as tuberculosis screenings and HIV testing.

IDC authorities recognize the importance and success of JRS Thailand’s efforts to improve the health and well being of the detainees held in the Bangkok facility. As a consequence, JRS has been able to provide medical care to hundreds of detainees each month and to conduct tuberculosis screening in the clinic for long-term detainees. This year, JRS also provided tuberculosis screening for IDC authorities, furthering their commitment to JRS’ provision of this vital service.

From October of 2012 through September of 2013:

• JRS staff conducted 12,089 visits to detainees in cells.
• 705 people were treated by a doctor.
• 456 people received tuberculosis screening.
• 25 people received dental care and five people received vision care.
• 45 people received mental health services.

A few examples of people helped last year include:

• A German detainee suffered injuries and traumatic stress prior to his arrival at the IDC when he was mugged. Upon arrival at IDC, he suffered from both physical injuries and psychological trauma so severe he could not be sent home. JRS requested IDC officials put him in a special room for people with medical concerns, and JRS staff monitored his situation. The JRS nurse arranged for consultations with a doctor and a psychologist in the JRS clinic, and he recovered quickly and was able to fly home. Before leaving, he thanked JRS, noting that he did not know how long he might have stayed in the IDC without our services.

• A five-year old girl from Vietnam experiencing hearing difficulties was referred by JRS and IOM referred to a specialist outside the IDC for a medical assessment. The specialist informed JRS she needed a hearing aid, or her condition would lead to permanent hearing loss. JRS provided her with a hearing aid, and IOM provide transportation for follow-up visits with specialists.

• A 75-year old-British man in poor health was referred by JRS to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a serious and potentially fatal kidney disease and was told that he was not fit enough to travel home. He stayed in the hospital for more than one month until his health improved enough to travel with a medical escort. In addition to providing medical services, JRS successfully negotiated with a professional nurse to escort him to his home country free of charge. His embassy confirmed he arrived to his home country safely, where he is receiving medical treatment. The embassy’s consul-general sent JRS a thank you letter from for assisting him.

JRS purchased and distributed 490 hygiene kits to enable detainees to clean their cells throughout the year. The IDC does not provide supplies for detainees to maintain their cells or their own personal hygiene. JRS was able to reduce the spread of illnesses and ensure that all detainees were able to live in a more hygienic environment.

Thanks to the generosity of the J. Homer Butler Foundation and other donors, JRS has been able to continue attending to the needs of this vulnerable population in detention.

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Jesuit Refugee Service and urban refugees

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communicationsdirector@jesuit.org
202-629-5946