Many migrants sent home in 2016
More than 800 Cambodian migrant workers were assisted and sent back to the country in 2016 by the government through its embassies, but one rights group says even greater attention needs to be paid to overseas workers.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said yesterday that the ministry, embassies and the Cambodian consul-general abroad helped return home 816 Cambodian workers who had been affected by employer abuse, trafficking or other work-related difficulties last year.
The ministry said that 139 Cambodian workers were sent back from Thailand, where 110 had been living and working illegally, two had committed crimes, 22 were involved with illegal logging and five suffered employer abuse.
In addition, 272 workers were sent back from Malaysia, 231 from Vietnam, 78 from Indonesia, 64 from China, 16 from Japan, six from Singapore, four from the Philippines, two each from Laos and Russia and one each from Australia and Saudi Arabia.
The ministry said that it along with embassies and the Cambodian consul-general abroad have always been attentive to Cambodians working abroad, helping send them back to their families in times of difficulty and also coordinating their legal employment overseas.
“The ministry and Cambodian consul-general have solved all the problems of workers abroad, both those there legally and illegally,” the ministry said.
It also “discussed and coordinated with the competent authorities in those countries to issue work permits, visas and passports for Cambodian workers and rescued Cambodian women who were deceived by brokers to marry foreigners.”
The Foreign Affairs Ministry also helped request visas for 97,102 Cambodians to work legally in Thailand in 2016, an increase on the 68,174 in 2015.
Am Sam Ath, a senior coordinator at rights group Licadho, told Khmer Times yesterday that he supported the Cambodian government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cambodian consul-general in helping Cambodian workers return home after suffering hardships abroad.
“This is a good result. However, the government and the Foreign Ministry have to pay more attention, especially embassies and the Cambodian consul-general in those countries, to help our workers who have been affected there,” he said.
Mr. Sam Ath added that the government needed to prevent exploitation and trafficking of workers from Cambodia to other countries. He said the ministry should have a mechanism to monitor workers’ safety in each of those countries.
He said some Cambodians still suffer abuse at the hands of their employers abroad and despite the support of the Cambodian embassy there, he said it was not enough to ensure the workers’ safety.
Long Dimanche, Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea, said on Monday that more than $500 million flowed into the kingdom in 2016 from those working in South Korea who had sent remittances to their families.
Mr. Dimanche said that sending workers to South Korea was important for the development of both nations and also for the development of human resources in Cambodia.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, from 2007 until 2016, the government helped send a total of 50,281 workers to South Korea.
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