The Foreign Affairs Ministry rescued and repatriated more than 36,000 Cambodian migrant workers from several countries last year.
Ouch Borith, a ministry secretary of state, said yesterday during the annual conference that the ministry pays close attention to protect Cambodians working abroad.
“The ministry has intervened and rescued 36,262 Cambodians from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and China,” he said.
Mr Borith said during the year, the ministry solved problems the workers faced and provided consular services in a timely and efficient manner to Cambodian citizens abroad.
Last year, the ministry reported that it rescued and repatriated 8,489 Cambodian in 2018.
Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state of Ministry of Interior and vice chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said yesterday this year’s Foreign Affairs Ministry statistics might have included those who were Cambodian migrants with invalid documents along with those who were victims of human traffickers.
“I will seek clarification from the Foreign Affairs Ministry about its figures,” she said. “Those repatriated were Cambodian citizens abroad. It doesn’t necessarily mean that thousands of them were trafficked.”
Ms Bun Eng noted that a number of deportees were repatriated after they sought intervention from the Cambodian embassies in those countries.
“Some of them went to other countries on their own to seek work and authorities in those countries found they were there illegally and deported them,” she said. “The Foreign Affairs Ministry helped to facilitate their trips back home.”
According to Ms Bun Eng, more than 100,000 Cambodian migrant workers were sent back in 2018, compared with about 30,000 last year.
“The figure decreased because the government legitimised more than one million migrant workers,” she said.