Migrants Still Deported En Masse from Thailand

By Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Cambodian migrant workers queue at the Thai-Cambodian border checkpoint in Poipet town last year. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Almost 70,000 Cambodian migrant workers were deported from Thailand through the Poipet international checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province last year, with the daily average being about 200, Poipet checkpoint Immigration police chief Sim Sam Ath said yesterday, citing an annual report.
Of the 67,087 migrant workers deported, 21,797 were women, Mr. Sam Ath said.
He also said that Cambodians who crossed the border for illegal logging often did so through illegal corridors. Those caught were often shot by Thai border police, Mr. Sam Ath added.
According to a report released last week on the government’s progress against human trafficking, 51,318 Cambodia migrant workers, including 4,030 children, were from Thailand during the first 10 months of last year, and 834 of them had been imprisoned in Thailand for more than a month. 
Interviews with children of deported migrants found that most accompanied their parents to work in Thailand.Of the 646 children interviewed, 372 said they had traveled to Thailand with their parents who worked at construction sites while 274 went with relatives to harvest cassava.
A report compiled by the Cambodian Embassy in Thailand and Thai authorities found that 213 Cambodian migrants, both legal and illegal, died in Thailand last year, an increase of 65 percent from 2014. 
Mr. Sam Ath said the major causes of death for Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand were accidents at work, traffic accidents and diseases.
Moeun Tola, executive director of the newly formed Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights, said Cambodians migrate to Thailand because they cannot find work at home or cannot survive on the wages paid. This is an issue the government must address, he added. 
Mr. Tola also called for an urgent revamp of the process of issuing documents to migrant workers to ensure more of them went to Thailand legally. “The state must review the procedure of transitioning migrants’ statuses from illegal to legal as quickly as possible,” Mr. Tola said, adding that fees should be reasonable. “The announcement to set a $49 price tag for a passport does not line up with the true cost,” he said, adding that the long wait required to obtain a new passport was also a deterrent to safe migration.  
In 2014, more than 270,000 Cambodian migrants were deported from Thailand for lacking proper documents. The Interior Ministry reported that a census by the Thai government in March last year found that more than 450,000 Cambodians were living and working illegally in Thailand.

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