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Gov’t Issues Aid Order Over Fresh Migrant Worker Deportations


Cambodian migrant workers get off from a Thai truck upon their arrival from Thailand at a Cambodia-Thai international border gate in Poipet, Cambodia, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

Last week Cambodia closed cross-border routes used by migrant workers to prevent further economic migration to Thailand and curb illicit goods smuggling.

Cambodia has issued orders to provide shelters and food aid to migrant workers deported from Thailand.

An order from Interior Minister Sar Kheng issued on Tuesday called on officials in provinces bordering Thailand to convene an emergency meeting with Thai officials to enhance cooperation on dealing with increasing numbers of deportees.

Cambodia is also seeking to clampdown on employment agencies who send workers to Thailand without proper documentation.

Kheng ordered municipal and provincial governors to set up reception centers stocked with medicines and doctors to treat returnees.

“We appeal to all generous persons to help provide assistance voluntarily with funds, materials, food, medicines and temporary shelters and transportation in order to solve the problems of workers,” Kheng wrote.

The influx of deportees came after Thailand implemented a new labor law on June 23 that contained stricter rules on migrant workers who do not have identity cards.

Labor experts criticized Phnom Penh for a lack of preparation.

Sum Chankea, a Bantaey Meanchey-based rights worker with Adhoc, said a long-term strategy was needed to deal with the problem.

“The government should shift to looking for markets for Cambodian agricultural products,” he said. “Workers will not migrate if they earn decent wages in Cambodia.”

The recent influx comes three years after the Thai junta forced some 170,000 undocumented Cambodian migrant workers to return.

Gen. Khieu Sopheak, interior spokesman, said the job faced by the government was “not easy” and critics should consider the difficulties the authorities face.

Last week Cambodia closed cross-border routes used by migrant workers to prevent further economic migration to Thailand and curb illicit goods smuggling.

Chin Piseth, deputy of the border relations office in Bantaey Meanchey, declined to comment.

Chankea claimed that between June 28 and Tuesday [July 4] some 4,100 migrant workers were forced to return to Cambodia from Thailand.

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