cambodian migrant workers thai border
Hundreds of Cambodian migrant workers are stranded at Thailand’s Boeung Trakoun border after Prime Minister Hun Sen-led government announced lockdown across eight provinces bordering the country. The decision was taken by the Thai government last month in view of the rising transmission of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and to control the third pandemic wave.
In the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions in Thailand, several Cambodian migrant workers have lost their jobs and source of livelihood. In the absence of funds to afford medical treatment and other essentials in Thailand, a majority of workers expressed their willingness to return to Cambodia. However, due to prolonging lockdown measures and travel restrictions, they are unable to return to their home nation. This prompted migrant workers to use unofficial crossing points on the Thai border to travel to Cambodia.
Local authorities provide help
Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities and other local facilities have been providing food and daily essentials such as medicines to workers stranded at the border. Boeung Trakoun border police chief Van Daran told the media that the administration has coordinated with the Thai authorities to regularly check the health of stranded workers for any suspected COVID-19 symptoms.
“Those who are suspected of infection with Covid-19 are tested immediately and we will send all of these workers to quarantine centres after the closure of the border between Cambodia and Thailand comes to an end,” he said.
Last week, Cambodian migrant workers slammed the Thai government over border closure measures that prevented them from returning to their home country. Speaking to the media, a number of migrant workers shared their discontent with the government’s decision, noting that workers have been kept in quarantine for weeks without sufficient food and essential supplies.
Thai govt urges support from workers
Responding to the exodus, Thai officials have called on migrant workers to stay in the country to prevent further spread of the variant.
“I appeal to all workers in Thailand, if possible, please stay there now and take care of yourselves,” said Major General Seng Thearin, Fifth army region deputy chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Thailand and Cambodia governments are coordinating efforts to transport workers and provide safe accommodations to them until the border restrictions are eased. According to reports, a number of Cambodian migrant workers who managed to return to their home country from Thailand this week tested positive for COVID-19.
As per the data by Cambodian NGO Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), there are about two million Cambodians working in Thailand in various labour-intensive sectors across the country, including construction, fishing, agriculture, and manufacturing.