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UN gives $1 million for migrant-worker support programme

Khmer Times Staff / Khmer Times Share:
Migrant workers wait for transport upon returning from Thailand in March. Facebook

The United Nations is providing $1 million for a joint programme with the government to provide support to returning migrant workers in three provinces.


Interior Minister Sar Kheng said yesterday the six-month programme will be carried out in Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces.

“The programme is also to ensure the provision of necessary social and economic services to the migrant workers as well as contributes to an effort to manage and address impacts caused by COVID-19 toward the migrant workers,” he said during a meeting between representatives of relevant ministries and UN agencies in Cambodia.

“If the government can implement the programme successfully, it will be able to request for more funds from the UN to extend it to other sub-national administrations,” he added.

“We met today to prepare a joint programme to arrange and manage the use of the budget with transparency and effectiveness to reach all migrant workers who face problems caused by COVID-19,” Kheng told reporters after the meeting.

He called on local authorities to better manage security and public order issues, monitor the entry of migrant workers from abroad and respond to their needs in a timely manner.

Kheng also urged local authorities to facilitate the participation of relevant partners in promoting and improving the lives of the migrant workers.

He suggested the UN agencies in Cambodia coordinate with the world body agencies in countries in the region to find a solution to manage the cross-border flow of migrant workers.

So far, more than 100,000 Cambodian migrant workers have returned from Thailand following the Thai government’s decision to close the country’s borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The returns demonstrate how the pandemic can impact a specific group of people in multiple ways and render them vulnerable, Pauline Tamesis, UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, said during the meeting.

On the health side, returning migrant workers risk carrying and spreading the virus to their families and community, she said. On the socio-economic side, they represent a critical mass of Cambodians who have lost their jobs, incomes and livelihoods which their families rely on.

“The joint programme will focus on devising local solutions for community innovations and empowered communities and sub-national governments combined with investment in capacity building are expected to create dynamics to drive innovation for more effective solutions to the pressing needs and fast-changing situations,” Tamesis said. “Hand-in-hand with community-drive solutions, the joint programme at the same time will strengthen the government mechanism at sub-national levels for delivery of health and social services,” she said.

The UN under the lead of UNICEF will support the deployment of 20 social workers in selected districts of the target provinces, she added.

Pok Nang, a migrant worker in Takeo province, said yesterday he returned from Thailand in March over COVID-19 fears.

He said he has now taken up farming and hoped the programme will be extended to his province so that he could learn a skill which could be used to find a job.


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