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Lawmaker Urges More Attention for Migrant Workers

Migrant workers from Burma, who were trapped in floods and have been out of work for weeks, hold food rations in Thailand's Ayutthaya province November 1, 2011.
Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua has appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government to again crack down on unscrupulous recruiting agencies that hire workers for jobs abroad.

There has been an official ban on recruiting firms since October 2011, but Mu Sochua says they continue to operate, putting young workers in potentially dangerous situations far from home, especially in Thailand and Malaysia.

Many workers are recruited from impoverished rural areas, trained at recruiting centers brokered abroad. But the sector is not well regulated, and the workers face dangers overseas.

Mu Sochua told reporters Friday that she continues to receive requests from workers abroad, asking that they be rescued. She receives about 10 cases per month asking for her help, she said.

“I’m worried about migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand,” she said. “The government has not taken responsibility for their situation.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.

Cambodia has in recent years sought to lessen the burden of joblessness by promoting migrant work abroad. But a number of abuse claims have emerged, accusing recruitment agencies in the country of abusing recruits, or hiring underage workers, who then find themselves vulnerable, unpaid, abused or worse at the hands of their employers abroad.