Thai authorities deported more than 13,000 Cambodian migrant workers last year, according to an annual report from the National Police.
The report released yesterday said that 13,396 Cambodian workers, including 4,169 women and 469 children, were deported by Thai authorities.
The report added that 838 workers, including 208 women and 103 children, were prevented by Cambodian authorities from crossing the border into Thailand illegally last year.
All the deportees had overstayed their visas or crossed the border illegally. Some of them had been cheated by recruitment agents who promised them work in Thailand.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced on Monday that an inter-ministerial working group would soon be formed to resolve issues for illegal migrant workers deported from Thailand.
He added that the working group would be comprised of four ministries, including the Interior Ministry, Labour Ministry, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I will ask to create an inter-ministerial working group to standby in Poipet city to aid returning workers and gather information from them after they are deported by Thai authorities,” Mr Kheng said. “Our authorities cannot ignore this issue because we have to be responsible for our citizens even if they seek work abroad illegally.”
Last month, the Interior Ministry said that 30 to 40 percent of about one million Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand were still undocumented.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 Cambodian migrant workers were arrested by Thai authorities for illegally working in Sing Buri province on Thursday last week.
According to National Police, Thai authorities raided a construction site in Mueang Sing Buri district where they found 29 Cambodian workers without work permits or proper documents to work or live in Thailand.
Police said the workers were transferred to a Thai immigration office for further questing.
“Thai authorities found all of them to be employed without a permit and they had crossed the border into Thailand illegally,” a police report said.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said the ministry had not yet received reports about the arrests.
He said that normally, a Cambodian consular office would contact Thai authorities in order to secure the release of the detained Cambodians.
“If their only offence was illegally crossing the border or overstaying their visa in Thailand, the Thai side always favours Cambodia’s requests,” Mr Sounry said. “Cases involving illegal logging are more complex, however.”
“In the past, the Thais have declined to release Cambodian loggers and often find more evidence to prosecute them in court,” he added.