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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Bangkok to round up homeless
A Thai homeless man eats his lunch while sitting on a road-side bench in Bangkok
The Thai capital has up to 10,000 homeless people
The Thai authorities have said they want to clear Bangkok's streets of thousands of homeless people ahead of a meeting of world leaders next month.

Some would be sent for vocational training at army camps or shelters, and those suffering from psychiatric disorders would be taken to hospital, the Thai prime minister and officials said.

"Arrested immigrant beggars will be deported, prostitutes will be sent to rehabilitation centres and insane homeless will be sent to mental hospitals," said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

"There are no excuses for being a vagabond," Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej told The Bangkok Post. "Everybody must have a place to live."

Thai police estimate that there are around 10,000 homeless people on the streets of Bangkok. Poor rural people are attracted to the capital in their search for jobs.

A young Thai boy begs for money as others pass by on Sukhumvit Road
It is unclear what will happen after the summit

"Give them a chance to go back home first, then put (the rest) together in one place and feed them from the state budget like my previous operation against street dogs," Mr Samak was quoted as saying by The Nation.

The metropolitan bureau police said shelters had already been prepared for those who are not hand-picked to attend the army boot camps.

"We have prepared shelters for them and at the beginning of October before Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) starts, they will be sent there for training," he said.

Terror plot

This year's Apec summit will be held in Bangkok on 20-21 October.

US President George W Bush is among the leaders scheduled to attend.

Officials have been renovating government buildings and moving thousands of stray dogs ahead of the meeting.

The Thai authorities will not only be working to ensure the capital is aesthetically pleasing. They will also want to guarantee tight security.

Prime Minister Thaksin said in June that Muslim militants had been plotting to target Western interests in Bangkok to coincide with the summit.




SEE ALSO:
'Bomb plot' against Apec summit
14 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Thailand
24 May 03  |  Country profiles


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