The first group of 15 Thai workers repatriated from Israel arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Thursday morning, where they were warmly greeted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara. The workers, who had been stranded in Israel due to the ongoing conflict, were met by several other officials, including Labour Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang, and Deputy Public Health Minister Santi Promphat.
Accompanied by their families, the returning workers disembarked from El Al Flight LY083 at 11:22 am. Among them, two individuals were in wheelchairs due to injuries sustained during their time in Israel. Upon arrival, the group was transported to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute for health screenings and to receive compensation from the Ministry of Labour. Subsequently, they would be allowed to depart for their respective provinces.
Sad news accompanied the repatriation, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that 16 Thai workers were currently being held hostage by Hamas fighters since the conflict began. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin further disclosed that one Thai worker had tragically lost their life, bringing the death toll to 21. As of now, 5,174 out of the estimated 30,000 Thai workers in Israel have registered for voluntary repatriation, according to Kanchana Patarachoke, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) stands ready with transport aircraft to bring more Thai nationals home. However, their operations are contingent on securing permission from other countries to fly through their airspace. Evacuations are expected to commence on Sunday, with additional flights planned for October 24th. In the meantime, authorities have already secured 80 seats on commercial flights for Thai nationals scheduled to depart next Wednesday, as confirmed by Ms. Kanchana.
The repatriation efforts come as an urgent response to the escalating crisis in Israel. The Thai government aims to ensure the well-being and safe return of all Thai workers affected by the conflict, as they continue to navigate complex logistical challenges and secure international cooperation for their evacuation operations.
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