Migrant workers still headed both ways at Thai border

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Migrant workers are seen at the Malai district police station after being rounded up on the Thai border in Banteay Meanchey province. POLICE

Over 7,600 migrant workers who had illegally crossed the border into Thailand in search of work were sent back to Cambodia and placed in quarantine centres between February and June of 2021, according to the National Police.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on June 9 that most of them had entered Thailand illegally and then tried to escape from quarantine, which resulted in them being sent back to Cambodia.

He said some of them were immediately arrested by Thai authorities shortly after crossing into Thailand, but some were found deep in Thailand’s interior, such as in Sras Keo and other provinces far from the border.

Upon their arrival back in Cambodia, many had tried to escape from quarantine centres but the police brought them to the centre in their hometowns.

“Sometimes, they escaped from the quarantine centres because they came from Thailand and they wanted to get home immediately. If they are subject to quarantine for 14 days near the border, it was too long of a wait for them. So they wanted to quarantine closer to their houses,” Kim Khoeun said.

In a similar case, police on standby in Sangkae village of Boeung Beng commune in Malai district of Banteay Meanchey province arrested 13 migrant workers and detained two children along with the broker helping them cross the border in the early hours of June 9.

Banteay Meanchey police’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection deputy department chief Dy Socheat said on June 9 that the 13 workers – and the two daughters of one of the workers – were stopped while they were on their way to Thailand.

A broker identified as Yeurn Narong, 20, was also arrested by the police.

“The migrant workers were sent to quarantine centres in the provinces where they live. The suspected broker will be sent to court on allegations of human trafficking,” she said.