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The struggle of immigrant single-moth...
Bangkok, Thailand.
By Biel Calderon
10 Jun 2013

The iconic image of refugees that we usually have in mind is a row of tents in a sprawling emergency camp. But reality tells us that refugees are increasingly moving to large towns and cities. More than over half the world’s refugees live in large towns and cities where they suffer from harsh living conditions, with a lack of security and an increasing poverty.

Thailand is a hot spot for urban refugees. One of the reasons why the number keeps increasing is the relative easinness to enter the country. But the conditions of life awaiting them are far from the idilic idea that some displaced people may build in their minds. Urban refugees in Thailand face a harsh reality, without any legal right to work and a lack of access to basic services, such as healthcare and education.

Bangkok hosts around 2,600 refugees and asylum seekers from more than 40 countries. They hope to find a sense of community, safety and economic independence, but what they find is fear of detention and deportation, exploitation and abuse.

Among them, we find a specially vulnerable group: single-mother refugees who came to Thailand either with their family or alone. They are often denied the necessary legal rights to participate in the mainstream economy and are thus pushed underground, into informal jobs. There, they face extortion, exploitation, abuse (risk of sexual and gender-based violence) and arrest.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
08 Jun 2013

Pendeza (random name), 31, was detained and tortured in Democratic Republic of Congo because of the tie of her husband with a tribal guerrilla. She arrived in Bangkok in November 2012 after having travelled through Rwanda and Kenya. She lives with her baby son as an asylum seeker, waiting to be recognized as refugee.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
08 Jun 2013

Maria Teresa (random name), 36, fled Angola in 2009 escaping from local authorities who threatened her life. In 2008, the government expropriated her house and detained her during a demonstration. Now she lives in Bangkok with her 2 years-old daughter, where she has initiated the process to get the refugee status.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Shoba (random name), 35, left Sri Lanka in August 2009, two months after the end of the civil war with the Tamil guerrilla. Her husband disappeared in July 2009 after being accused of helping the guerrilla. Already recognized as a refugee, she lives now in Bangkok with her children, while waiting to be resettled.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Muna (random name), 39, lost the favour of her family after marrying a man from another tribal clan in Somalia. When her husband disappeared in 2010 both her family and her husband´s family tried to kill her. She fled in July 2011 and travelled to Bangkok but she had to leave her four children in her country. As a refugee, she started the process to be resettled.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Andrea (random name) was married with a member of the Intelligence Service of the Tamil guerrilla during the civil war in Sri Lanka. When the civil war finished in 2009 her family was targeted by the government and they fled after her husband disappeared. She lives in Bangkok with two of her three children. She has been rejected as refugee and she is preparing the appeal against the UNHCR decision.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Sahar (random name), 50, fled Iran in 2010 with her three children escaping from the abuses of her husband. Two of her three children are already adults but she also takes care of her granddaughter, abandoned by her Thai mother. She has recently been recognized as refugee by UNHCR.

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Immigrant Single Mothers, Invisible R...
Bangkok, Thailand
By Biel Calderon
06 Jun 2013

Sania (random name), 33, left Pakistan in 2012, one year after the escape of her husband, a member of an opposition organization. She lives with her three children in Bangkok, while her husband is hold in an Immigration Detention Center located in the same city. Both have been recognized as refugees.da, where she will be resettled.