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More boots at the border: Extra forces to stem illegal entries from Thailand

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Soldiers get set to patrol the Cambodia-Thailand border in Banteay Meanchey province on Monday. Facebook

The Ministries of Defence and Interior have deployed more soldiers and border police personnel along all provinces neighbouring Thailand in order to prevent migrant workers from returning illegally and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom.

Brigadier General Mao Phalla, Royal Cambodian Army spokesman, told Khmer Times yesterday that the increase of armed forces along the borders with Thailand is aimed at strengthening the work of protecting the Kingdom’s territorial integrity and prevent migrant workers from crossing over illegally in order to avoid being quarantined.

Brig Gen Phalla said the deployments are also to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 as neighbouring countries are now experiencing community transmissions.

“It is the army’s duty to protect the territorial integrity and protect the people from being exposed to COVID-19. It is not an unusual thing,” he said. “The deployment of more armed forces along the Cambodian-Thai border is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our migrant workers who cross the border illegally to go home from spreading the disease,” he said.

However, Brig Gen Phalla declined to release the number of extra armed forces personnel deployed along the borders of Cambodia and Thailand, saying that “it is confidential for national security reasons.”

Lieutenant General Ek Sam Oun, the commander of Military Region 5 in Battamabang province, said that the armed forces are now patrolling the border at all provinces neighbouring Thailand.

Lt Gen Sam Oun said that in fact, soldiers started patrolling the borders since the community outbreak of COVID-19 in the Kingdom in November.

Poipet City military police get ready to deploy personnel along the Cambodia-Thailand border to prevent people from illegally crossing without undergoing quarantine. Banteay Meanchey Provincial Military Police

“We have done this before, but now we are stepping up our forces along the Thai-Cambodian border following the recommendations of Prime Minister Hun Sen to help our migrant workers, who are crossing the border from Thailand, to go to quarantine centres before returning home to their families or their communities,” he told Khmer Times yesterday.

“The increase in the number of troops along the border is not for the army to go to arrest or abuse the people. But it is to gather and bring them to the quarantine centres to prevent spread of COVID-19,” Lt Gen Sam Oun said.

“If we allow them to come through the Thai border without doing so, the disease will definitely spread,” he said. “Due to the actions and efforts of the army, we can now successfully prevent any new outbreak of COVID-19 in Cambodia. This is a good move,” he added.

Lt Gen Sam Oun noted that nowadays, more Cambodian migrant workers are still crossing over from Thailand on a daily basis, especially along the border in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces.

He called on provincial authorities to cooperate and educate people not to illegally cross the border into Thailand which is facing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

He added that those who are still living and working in Thailand should stay put if the place where they are is safe.

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