(CHIANG RAI, Thailand) — Three of the boys and a soccer coach rescued from a cave in Thailand last month have been granted citizenship, Thailand’s foreign ministry told ABC News Wednesday.
All four had previously been stateless, but had applied for Thai citizenship before they became trapped in the cave.
The three players — Adul Sam-on, Mongkol Boonpiam and Pornchai Kamluang — and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, were rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand after they were found trapped along with nine other young soccer players. Divers mounted a daring mission to get them out, captivating people worldwide.
Thailand is home to ethnic minorities and tribes with roots in neighboring countries, including Myanmar, Laos and China, who are considered stateless. The cave is located close to the border of Myanmar.
The three boys and coach were born in Thailand, according to the Associated Press, but did not have citizenship, which deprived them of some benefits and rights like the ability to travel outside the region.
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