Plight of Moken on Kho Lao, Ranong
Koh Lao is a small island in the Andaman Sea on the Thai-Myanmar border. It is home to some three hundred Moken people.
One of the most common sights for the Moken women and children is to see their husbands or fathers embarking on a sea trip which sometimes lasts from three weeks to a month.
They sail down to the Nicobar Islands in Indonesia, where they dive for sea cucumbers.
Some of them are arrested by Indonesian authorities while others come back with crippled legs as a result of decompression sickness. Many of them even do not return to their beloved families.
Taeloy Pramongkij said he had no choice, because the fishery sector in Ranong was becoming difficult.
” Of course, we are afraid of being handicapped or dead. But if we stay here, we night die of starvation. We have to take all the risks. “, said Taeloy.
His family has been living on the island for over 30 years. In recent years, representatives of a number of state agencies and non government organizations came to the island, trying to improve their living conditions. But a concrete development plan has yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, other Moken communities in other parts of the Andaman Sea have received much support such as vocational training or turning their fishing village into a tourist attraction. Some of them are even granted Thai citizenship.
” Moken have been living in Thailand for generations. Some of them enjoy a certain degree of legal recognition. But why are the Moken on Koh Lao barred from official household registration? said NGO worker, Naovanit Jaempit.
Features : Last Update : 10:33:48 20 April 2008 (GMT+7:00)