News / Asia

Migrant Workers Take Flight Amid Fears of Thai Crackdown

Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Cambodian workers ride on military trucks as they prepare to cross the Thai-Cambodia border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew, June 15, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thousands of migrant workers have fled back to Cambodia, fearing the Thai military will crackdown on illegal workers. The Thai government has denied ordering the expulsion of workers.
 
Creating chaotic scenes on the Thai-Cambodian border, tens of thousands of undocumented Cambodian laborers have been heading home, fearing a crackdown and aware of unconfirmed reports of the use of force against illegal labor by the Thai military government.
 
Tightened border security following the May 22 military takeover caused an initial movement of migrant workers back home. But in recent days the numbers have risen sharply.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) Asia Pacific spokesman, Joe Lowry, said border checkpoints have been overwhelmed.

"About 75,000 people would have crossed over from Thailand - undocumented Cambodian workers.  They are coming from different parts of Thailand, being at the border and then being taken to their home provinces by a combination of Army and military trucks, mini-buses that we're hiring to get the most urgent cases homes. It has been a chaotic scene on the border for the last 48 hours and it might continue for quite some time," he said.

Thailand's National Health Commission Office estimates there are as many as four million migrant workers in Thailand, with at least 400,000 from Cambodia and more than two million from Myanmar, also known as Burma, as well as some from Laos.  All make vital contributions in industry, agriculture and fishing; areas often avoided by Thai workers.

Sunday, the Thai military and Foreign Ministry issued statements denying there are plans to crackdown on migrant labor.  Military government deputy leader General Tanasak Patimapragon says the administration is taking steps to control migrant labor because of concerns over human trafficking and child labor.

In recent years, a U.N. International Labor Organization backed program has worked to regularize Thailand's undocumented labor through a program of work permits and national passports for migrant workers.

Since the military takeover in May, police and officials are reported to have undertaken raids on migrant neighborhoods, including in the northern city of Chiang Mai, and Trat, a Thai border town with Myanmar, asking migrant workers to present identification cards.

Recent comments by Thai military government leader, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, calling for better workforce regulation and warning illegal workers about their status led to fears of a crackdown.

But an analyst on migrant worker issues, Andy Hall, said a review of policy is needed.

"They've come out with this commission saying that they are setting up this commission to address migration issues.  I mean I think it is a good thing because migration as a policy in Thailand has been absolutely chaotic. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have been left with without any policy," said Hall.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a statement Sunday, blamed rumors of a crackdown by "unknown sources" for the panic among Cambodian workers as well as Thai employers.  The spokesman also denied any use of force, mass arrests or killings as alleged in news reports.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike from: United Kingdom
June 15, 2014 1:29 PM
A friend to sends me emails from Cambodia has told me the Thai
and Laos people do not like Cambodians.

by: Adam9 from: Dong Nai, VN
June 15, 2014 11:01 AM
This is very sad.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs