IRC Officially Opens Refugee Processing Office in Bangkok
The IRC this week officially opened an office in the Thai capital Bangkok to assist people seeking admission to the United States as refugees. The office, which in U.S. government terminology is called an overseas processing entity, or OPE, marked its official opening with a traditional Thai ceremony on April 18.
The IRC established refugee processing operations in Thailand last October. The OPE, with its 70 staff members, coordinates all refugee processing activities in the region including the preparation of refugee applications, facilitation of Department of Homeland Security interviews, medical screening, cultural orientation and departure to the U.S. OPE staff have interviewed almost 8,000 refugees in Tham Hin refugee camp near the Thailand-Burma border since December 2005. The OPE assists refugees throughout Southeast Asia and has fielded prescreening missions to Malaysia, Cambodia, Hong Kong and the Philippines since October.
At the opening ceremony, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Ralph L. “Skip” Boyce, praised the efforts of the OPE staff and remarked on the “long continuum and tradition of partnership between NGOs and the Department of State in serving refugees worldwide.” The Ambassador went on to commend the staff’s dedication “to helping those seeking safety to begin new free lives in the United States.”