Labour Minister Ith Samheng visited migrant workers in Thailand over the weekend, urging them to make use of centres that Thai authorities are opening to provide them with legal documents to remain in the country.
More than 5,000 Cambodian migrant workers fled the country recently as the Thai government began a crackdown on illegal foreign workers following the passage of a Royal Decree regulating their presence.
The exodus led to the cancelling of the decree and a meeting between the labour ministries of both countries, during which an agreement was reached to provide workers more time to gather legal documentation.
The Labour Ministry estimates that 1.5 million Cambodians work in Thailand, with at least 300,000 of them doing so illegally.
Labour Minister Ith Samheng met with workers on Friday and Saturday in Thailand, urging them to visit the centres being set up across the capital and country to gather legal documents, according to ministry spokesman Heng Sour.
“Mr Samheng went to Thailand to examine the situation and he appealed to all illegal Cambodian workers to get their legal documents in Thailand,” said Mr Sour. “This will ensure their safety and allow them to avoid arrest and deportation.”
Mr Sour said the workers have been granted a six-month window, beginning in August, to gather papers.
Hem Luy, 35, a worker who recently returned from Thailand, said he will go to Thailand with legal documents in the future.
“I was deported from Thailand last month because I worked there illegally,” he said. “But my brother who works in Thailand illegally is still in Thailand and he will go to do the legal documents at the Thai centre.”