In Thailand, the government does not have any laws that specifically define or recognize urban refugees. This means that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for recognizing refugees. This process is called the refugee status determination process, or just RSD for short.
Why do refugees need to be recognized by UNHCR?
Refugees are entitled to international protection under international law. That means, if someone is officially recognized as a refugee, they should receive certain types of protection and support.
Governments who have agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention are obligated to do certain things to protect refugees from being sent back to their country of origin and to protect them in their new country. Most governments have a process to determine who are refugees and therefore who will receive protection.
In Thailand, the Government has not agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not recognize urban refugees; therefore, UNHCR has agreed to help by conducting the RSD process instead of the Thai Government. UNHCR determines who is a refugee in Thailand.