Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin mentioned on Thursday that the death toll for Thais in the Israel-Hamas conflict is one of the highest in terms of nationality. “Thai people are not part of this fight, but our country has the most losses,” he noted
“Our urgent priority is to repatriate Thais who want to return home,” he stated, encouraging airlines with spare aircraft to reach out to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for evacuation assistance.
Currently, around 200 Thais can be brought back daily. Given the 6,000 Thai workers wanting to return, this process might take a month.
Land evacuation through the Gaza Strip is deemed unfeasible. Although some Thais in nearby countries like Egypt have lost passports, the government assures support through local Foreign Affairs officials.
An AFP report revealed that, with 21 fatalities, Thailand ranks second after the U.S., which recorded 22 deaths.
The ministry reported that 14 Thais were injured in Israel, and as of Thursday, 5,990 Thais have indicated their desire to return home.
Approximately 30,000 Thais, predominantly in agriculture, reside in Israel based on government data.
The Ministry of Transport confirmed collaboration with Thai AirAsia, Thai Airways International, and Nok Air for repatriation flights in the coming three days.
Mr. Srettha mentioned ongoing discussions with Gen Songwit Noonpakdi, urging Israeli assistance to relocate Thais to the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv.
Considering repatriation delays, Dubai, UAE, or India might serve as temporary hubs, said Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, following a meeting with pertinent authorities.
The government is exploring additional nearby countries, like Jordan, for potential repatriation flights.
Given current challenges, including closed roads in Israel, the best method for Thai citizens reaching the airport safely might be Israeli military vehicles, stated Mr. Srettha.
Mr. Srettha also highlighted concerns over potential Israeli airspace closure and continued rocket attacks. “If airspace remains accessible and conditions improve, there’s still hope,” he said.
The air force has scheduled a flight for Sunday to bring back approximately 120 Thais from Israel in the morning, followed by another 100 in the afternoon. The subsequent repatriation flight by the air force is set for October 18.
In another update, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee revealed ongoing negotiations with Hamas for the release of 16 Thai captives.
The ministry is engaging with embassies in Thailand having good ties with the Palestinians and also seeking international support.