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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More