News / Asia

Migrant Workers Struggling to Escape Thai Floods

Migrant workers from Burma, who were trapped in floods and have been out of work for weeks, hold food rations in Thailand's Ayutthaya province November 1, 2011.
Migrant workers from Burma, who were trapped in floods and have been out of work for weeks, hold food rations in Thailand's Ayutthaya province November 1, 2011.
Ron Corben

Migrant workers, largely from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, are still struggling to escape inundated areas of Thailand.  

There are no reliable estimates of how many people are stranded in the scores of flooded communities in Bangkok and areas north. Aid workers say that among the millions affected in Thailand, as many as 600,000 migrant workers, largely from Burma, are stranded in worsening conditions.

Plight of migrants

Trapped in apartments without electricity, food or drinking water, many are forced to pay exorbitant fees to be transported to dry areas.

Despite the situation, many government shelters have not reached capacity as residents stay with relatives or remain in their flooded homes to protect their possessions.

Human Rights and Development Foundation consultant Andy Hall says the plight of the migrant workers remains difficult.

“Why are the migrant [workers] staying there? They are staying there because maybe they do not understand the situation, maybe they are scared because the do not have documents, maybe they are being coerced to stay in their communities there are mafia [style] organizations in those areas who want to prevent undocumented workers coming in contact with authorities,” said Hall.

Thai industries are estimated to employ more than two-million migrant workers.  Many of these workers are employed in construction and industrial estates in the provinces near the capital, Bangkok, where flooding has been concentrated.

Discrimination

Mekong Migration Network spokesperson Jackie Pollock says many migrant workers, especially from Burma, face ‘neglectful discrimination’ due to language barriers with Thai aid organizations.  

“The relief services have got to reach the migrants," she said. "So I would think it is getting interpreters together with the most organized coordinated relief services, maybe the Thai Red Cross, the organizations which can get out there and really reach people taking these interpreters with them. The Thai Red Cross they are very happy to get to the migrants, they just cannot reach them.”

Those migrants who are officially registered with the government are wary to return home, because their work permits are void once they leave the country.

Documentation

But thousands of Burmese migrant workers have fled to the Thai border town of Mae Sot to return to Burma. Thai authorities are reported to have been detaining many because they failed to have adequate documentation.

Aid workers say Thai and Burmese authorities have moved to stop guards at border checkpoints from demanding bribes from the fleeing workers. But locals report that Burmese immigration authorities are allowing only 150 people to pass into Burma each day, leaving a massive backlog.

Human Rights and Development Foundation’s Hall says the plight of the migrant workers remains a crisis the government should address.

“The ministry of labor should be responsible, but it seems to be that because of the politics involved in this nobody is raising the issue of migrant protection and we see once again that the migrants at a time of crisis are being left behind and they are being shifted to brokers who are exploiting them and also the law enforcement agencies,” added Hall.

The Mekong Migration Network says Thailand must allow registered migrant workers to temporarily leave Thailand and return once the crisis passes without any penalties to assist in the economic recovery.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs