Picture this scene: It’s Sunday at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province, Thailand. A group of Thai vocational students, all decked out in their black attires, have just arrived from Israel. Among them, Vice Minister of Education, Siripong Angsakulkiat, stands out, sixth from the line, welcoming the students back home. This charming moment hides the harsh reality of the situation confronting many Thais in Israel today. (Photo supplied)
Regrettably, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had to report yet another increase in the number of Thais injured in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. On Sunday, the confirmed number took another leap, rising by two, thereby bringing the total to 18. Fortunately though, there has been no reported increase in the death toll or number of abducted Thais, which remain unvaried at 30 and 19 respectively.
During these trying times, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has been providing regular updates to the public. He announced on Sunday that the government was leaving no stone unturned to secure the safe return of abducted Thais. The government, he assured, was employing all possible strategies, including leveraging personal connections, to negotiate their release.
The gravity of the situation was further underscored by the Department of Consular Affairs’ recent figures. In the period from Oct 11 to 22, it reported that 2,608 Thai citizens had returned home on 15 separate flights from Israel. Among these returnees were seven Thai vocational students, who, together with their guardians, made the difficult decision to cut their internships short and return home to ensure their safety.
However, not all have chosen this path. According to the Education Ministry, seventy-one other vocational students have decided to brave it out and remain in Israel to finish their internship courses. This poignant picture brings into sharp focus the sacrifices these young minds are making in the pursuit of knowledge and experience.