Migrant workers urged to remain in place

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Cambodian migrant workers return from Thailand in March. SIEM REAP PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour urged Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand to remain in their places and not return to Cambodia amid Covid-19 outbreaks in Thailand as they may only face tough measures enforced by Thai authorities.

Sour made the call on July 30 as more and more migrant workers are returning in drove to Cambodia after losing their jobs in Thailand and fearing the disease. Some of them have even been detected with the coronavirus Delta variant.

He said if migrant workers need to return to Cambodia out of necessity, they should extend their plan to at least until August 13.

“For the time being, if you return via the Cambodian-Thai borders, by all means, you will meet Thai authorities who will return you to your place. The transporters and brokers who bring you to the border are violating Thailand’s ban and will face legal action,” Sour said in a Facebook post.

Lim Sophon, a Thailand-based coordinator for labour rights group Central, said on July 30 that migrant workers are currently trying to return to Cambodia regardless of the risks associated with their travel.

“Most of them try to come back at night with the help of brokers because they fear the situation in Thailand where the Covid-19 situation is severe. But they do not know that travels are restricted at the borders. When they get there, they became stuck without knowing where to go,” he said.

Cambodia has recently recorded 37 more cases of Delta – 34 Cambodian migrant workers returning from Thailand and three airline passengers.

Since March 31, Cambodia has logged a total of 75 Delta cases. Some of the cases have spread into communities, prompting the government to lock down eight provinces – seven of which border Thailand – and impose Covid-19 restrictions including a 9pm-3am curfew throughout the country through August 12.