Empowering Refugees to Rebuild Their Lives

Munny, a Cambodian in his late 40s, was a member of an opposition political party when he was arrested for demonstrating against the government. The police tortured him and threatened his safety.

Eventually, his party was allowed to secure his release on bail after he agreed to cut ties with his party. Despite risks to his safety, Munny decided to resume his political activities. One day, police raided the party’s offices. Munny managed to escape and with the help of his colleagues, snuck across the border to Thailand.

In Bangkok, Munny sought refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). His first application was denied. When he filed an appeal, it was swiftly rejected. Unable to return safely to Cambodia, Munny decided to remain in Thailand knowing he might be arrested by the local police. A few years passed and Munny got married in Thailand. Life was not easy for the newlyweds. Due to the lack of documentation, Munny was unable to work. His wife was unable to access healthcare services throughout her pregnancy.

“It is really difficult. I cannot work. I have no documents. I have no money. I do not have a home. I had been living under the mango tree. Sometimes, I ask to stay in a temple.”

Following a friend’s advice, Munny sought help from Asylum Access Thailand.  During this time, an unexpected development helped re-open his case: the government of Cambodia had accused him of distributing anti-government leaflets in Cambodia while he had actually been living in Thailand. Life soon changed for Munny. With our assistance, Munny finally received refugee status and felt empowered about building a new life in Thailand.

Published in February 2012