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Migrant workers fleeing Thailand trek for hours to cross border into Cambodia at 3 am

Kong Nov and Kong Ary / Khmer Times Share:
Quarantined migrant workers in a classroom of the Kamrieng Secondary School. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Groups of between 30 t0 40 migrant workers fleeing Thailand for a multitude of reasons trek for hours to the border, usually arriving at the border in the wee hours of the morning in the dark, between 3 to 5am.

In this particular investigative report, the full story of which will be published in Monday, 1st February, 2021 edition of Khmer Times, the preferred border crossing was Dung Border, a major crossing point and another smaller point called Phnom Dey.

All of the returning migrant workers, sometimes starving, desperate and completely worn out arrive at the border and are whisked away to the Kamrieng Secondary School, used a temporary quarantine centre in Battambang.

The school is located 10 kms away from the border check points where thousand of RCAF and police have been deployed to secure the 40 kms stretch of border here. The forces number about 20 for every 100 meters.

Kong Sambath, Deputy District governor of Kamrieng told Khmer Time late last night that when spotted crossing a stream located about 20 meters away from the border in Thao territory, the Cambodian forces encourage the migrant workers to cross the border safely with almost no resistance or obstacles from Thai forces.

Another migrant worker with her child on the phone on seats provided outside the classrooms to ponder their life away. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

Once across the border, they are gathered in groups and transported straight to the school, whose capacity is 184 and where at 7am the following day (if arrivals are re dawn), swabs are taken, compiled and dispatched to Battambang provincial health office from where it is dispatched to Phnom Penh for analysis. Results takes up to two to two and a half days.

Sambath said “The people crossing sometime are loners but in groups which comprises average 20 people, consisting of children, male and females.

“They are hungry, desperate, worn out physically and mentally and have many reasons and excuses to cross the border back to Cambodia. These range from no job and no money to make a living in Thailand, fear of a rapidly spreading and deadly COVID-19 situation, family events like weddings and funerals and also for harvesting.”

Kong Sambath, Deputy District governor of Kamrieng. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

He added that they are provide three meals a day and cash allowances and are permitted to roam freely inside the gated and walled compounds of the school but are not allowed outside and neither are visitors allowed inside beyond a few meters into the compound to hand over personal effects or extra food to family members at a handover point.

If there are no vacant slots in the school, the migrant workers who arrive for the day are dispatched to several other quarantine centres until there are slots available, the maximum of which remains a 184.

Be sure to read the full story in Monday’s edition of Khmer Times.

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