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In this July 18, 2018, photo provided by Chiang Rai Public Relations Department, members of the rescued soccer team show their skills before a press conference regarding their experience being trapped in the cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand.
Chiang Rai Public Relations Department/AP
Citizenship

Thailand Grants Citizenship to Stateless Survivors of Cave Rescue


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Thailand has granted citizenship to stateless members of the soccer team rescued from a flooded cave last month, reported BBC.

Following the dramatic recovery of the team, it was discovered that three of the players and their coach were among a community of 480,000 Thai residents considered “stateless,” according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

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Ardoon Sam-aon, the 14-year-old soccer star and “miracle boy” who spoke English with the British divers who found the Wild Boar team, was born in neighboring Myanmar and sent to Mae Sai Grace Church group as a child by his parents, reported CNN.

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He, along with Mongkol Boompiam, Ponchai Khamluang, and assistant coach Ekkapol Ake Chanthawong participated in a ceremony in Chiang Rai this week, where 30 residents were approved with Thai citizenship.

During the ceremony, the boys were given official Thai ID cards, which provides them access to public services, health care, and freedom of movement, noted CNN.

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Most of Thailand's stateless people originate from nomadic hill tribes and border regions of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and China, according to UNHCR.

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The team gained international attention when it was trapped for almost three weeks inside of a flooded cave, before diving experts from around the world were able to extract them on stretchers.

During their time underground, the boys remained calm with their coach through hours of meditation and Buddhist prayer, reported Vox.