Dozens of migrant workers in Banteay Meanchey province tried to sneak into Thailand since Monday to seek jobs despite the Thai border being locked down to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Provincial governor Oum Reatrey said yesterday about 10 workers managed to sneak into Thailand and 90 others were caught before they could do so.
“The migrant workers who sneaked in were sent back by Thai authorities,” he said. “We have placed them under 14- days quarantine.”
Mr Reatrey said about 25,000 migrant workers have returned to Cambodia from Thailand via the border in the province since March.
Brigadier General Um Sophal, provincial deputy police chief, said yesterday one of the migrant workers who tried to cross the border in Poipet city was injured by barbed wire placed there.
“One migrant worker injured his left leg while trying to run away from Thai soldiers,” he said. “Thai soldiers shot into the air and he tripped over the barbed wire.”
He said the migrant worker and three others illegally crossed the border to Rongleu Market in Thailand and came across Thai soldiers who were on patrol.
Brig Gen Sophal all four workers were sent back to Poipet city and placed in quarantine.
Last week, Interior Minister Sar Kheng ordered all governors of provinces bordering Thailand to prevent migrant workers from sneaking into Thailand in a move to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Lieutenant General Leang Phearom, head of the Interior Ministry’s Border Protection Police Department, said yesterday he has ordered all police units stationed along the border to strictly monitor and prevent migrant workers from sneaking into Thailand.
“We have ordered all border police units to crack down on illegal border crossings,” he said.
Lt Gen Phearom said that he had not received any report of the incident in Banteay Meanchey province.
However, he urged the public, especially migrant workers, to stop crossing illegally into Thailand because Thai authorities have locked down its borders with Cambodia.
“I appeal to migrant workers who intend to go to Thailand to please wait until the COVID-19 situation improves and not to take risks to seek jobs,” Lt Gen Phearom said.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for civil rights group Adhoc, yesterday expressed concern over the risks migrant workers are taking to cross the border illegally into Thailand.
“Yes, migrant workers still cross the border illegally although they know Thai authorities have locked it down,” he said. “We are really worried they will face imprisonment or be shot by Thai soldiers because Thailand is still under a state of emergency. We met some migrant workers and they said they don’t have jobs in Cambodia and will cross the border illegally to earn income to support their families.”
“They won’t migrate if the government supports them in finding jobs, as well as help some of them to market their agricultural products,” Mr Chankea added.