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Today Stripe - River

Thai Cave Boys And Coach Become Citizens

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/8/2018 Jakub Lewandowski
CHIANG RAI, THAILAND - JULY 18: Adul Sam-on (Center), the stateless boy who spoke to the British diver in English during their rescue, arrive for a press conference with eleven other boys and their coach from the 'Wild Boars' soccer team since they were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand last week, on July 18, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were discharged early from Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital after a speedy recovery and thanked those involved in their rescue. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images) © Getty CHIANG RAI, THAILAND - JULY 18: Adul Sam-on (Center), the stateless boy who spoke to the British diver in English during their rescue, arrive for a press conference with eleven other boys and their coach from the 'Wild Boars' soccer team since they were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand last week, on July 18, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were discharged early from Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital after a speedy recovery and thanked those involved in their rescue. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

Three boys and their coach who were trapped in a Thai cave last month were granted citizenship by local authorities on Wednesday.

“They all have the qualifications,” a chief officer of the Mai Sai district in the Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand said. “All children born in Thailand must have Thai birth certificates in order to qualify for Thai citizenship,” Reuters reported ​

a close up of a tree © Provided by IBT Media

Before being trapped in the cave, the three boys and their coach had applied for citizenship. Now, they possess Thai national identification cards.

Although the four were born in Thailand, they were considered stateless. They, along with 480,000 other people under such status, are from places near the border that is home to many people who are part of ethnic minorities or wandering hill tribes.

On June 23, the 12 boys along with their coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave located near Thailand’s border with Myanmar. The group, which was exploring the cave, could not get out after a storm caused the narrow caverns to flood.

What followed was a rescue mission that ended 18 days after the ordeal first began. Without food, the group survived for nine days by drinking water that dripped from the rocks of the cave. Coach Ekapol Chantawong, who was rescued on the last day and is also a former monk, taught the boys how to meditate in order to help them cope with the ordeal, the BBC reported.

A week after they were released from the hospital, the boys and their coach had their heads shaved as they prepared to become Buddhist novices and monks. The boys would stay at the Wat Phra That Doi Wao temple for nine days, the same amount of time that they were trapped in the cave before being rescued, The Independent reported.

“This temple will be where they will reside after the ordination and I hope they will find peace, strength and wisdom from practicing Buddha’s teaching,” Phra Khru Prayutjetiyanukarn, the temple’s acting abbot, said.

Calls to expedite their citizenship process began after their nationality status became known, the BBC reported.

At the time the coach and the boys received their citizenship, an additional 20 requests were also approved, mostly from children. Official data shows that 146,269 of the 486,000 people who are considered to be stateless are under the age of 18.

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