A rights group has noticed ongoing illegal migration into Thailand through unofficial border gates in Banteay Meanchey province, citing the lack of market for agricultural products and demand for labour inside the country.
Soum Chankea, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey province, said that brokers transported the migrant workers into Thailand and then onto their employer.
“We see that the districts bordering Thailand have people migrating to work in Thailand as normal. Those districts are Malai, Svay Chek, Ou’Chrov, and Thmar Puok,” he said.
“There are modern SUVs like Lexus and Highlander transporting them into Thailand and then they wait for their broker to bring them further to their destination.”
Mr Chankea said migrant workers face arrest if they go alone, but brokers, who are close to Cambodian and Thai border officials, can bring them safely to work.
“The reason for the migration is because there is no market for the agricultural harvest and no labour market, forcing them to struggle to find somewhere else to support their livelihoods,” he added.
Mr Chankea said that the number of migrants usually increased after Khmer New Year because migrant workers who visited their hometown over the holiday might persuade their relatives or friends to go too.
Nour Tha, deputy police chief of Ou’Chrov district, said most migrants crossing through the border gate in his district were short-term workers. He declined to comment about illegal workers.
“Most of the people in O Chrov go to work in the morning and come back in the evening to work on their farm, but there aren’t so many. This is just what we see as normal,” he said.
Cohn Mab, police chief of Ou’Chrov district’s O Bey Choan commune, said the gate in his commune was closed due to government regulation last month.
“This gate is closed according to the order of Interior Minister Sar Kheng last month, so there are not many going through this gate, but there are more at other gates. It is also strict on the Thai side,” he said.
Hang Leu, deputy police chief of Svay Chek district, also said that most people going through the gate in his district were short-term workers.
“There are not many going through the gate in my district. Mostly they go to work in the morning and come back in the evening, but there are not many,” he said.
“There are only about 30 to 40 people per day through the Chamkar Kor gate. Illegal migrants only comprise about 10 to 20 percent of the total migrants in my district.”