Border officials confirmed yesterday that the number of Cambodian workers coming back from Thailand this week has increased sharply since the Cambodian and Thai governments agreed to facilitate their return for Khmer New Year.
The Labour Ministry announced late last month that the two countries agreed to let Cambodian workers in Thailand return home during the New Year without having to reapply for a visa.
The announcement came during a press conference by the ministry in regards to Cambodian workers in Thailand eager to spend the holiday at home.
Sim Sam Ath, immigration chief at the Poipet border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province, said between 400 and 500 Cambodians working in Thailand returned through the international border gate on Sunday and Monday, and more than 1,000 came back on Tuesday.
“Normally, more than 100 come back per day, but this year a lot more are returning due to the government’s effort to facilitate them crossing the border,” he said, adding that even more were expected in the days before the New Year.
Mr Sam Ath said the immigration police force at the Poipet border checkpoint made every effort to protect the safety of the people.
He also noted that bus and taxi drivers were increasing the price of fares and requested that they not take advantage of Cambodians when they returned to their homeland.
Seng Seila, a police officer at the Ou Romdul border checkpoint in Battambang province, said that many Cambodian workers were returning through his checkpoint.
“Hundreds of workers are coming back every day through this checkpoint. We appeal to all of them when they come back to Thailand after the New Year, they must come back through the same border to easily run documents,” he said.
De Thehoya, a programme officer with labour rights group Central, said Cambodia and Thailand agreed to allow workers to come back home between April 5 and 30 and the workers do not need apply for a re-entry visa.
Mean Veasna, a villager in Poipet city and vendor at a market in Thailand, said that authorities did not charge workers to come back and visit their homeland but some people or brokers were demanding money to help them cross the border.
“Some brokers are taking money from workers to cross the border. The workers are happy to come back without any charge and processing of complicated documents,” he said.