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2 Feb 2021

Sokummono Khan, VOA Khmer

Cambodia: Thousands of migrant workers return home from Thailand due to the spike of COVID-19 positive cases; many face unemployment

"Cambodian Migrant Workers Caught Between Thai COVID-19 Outbreak and Joblessness at Home", 2 February 2021

It is a short bicycle ride for Cambodian migrant worker Chim Cheng to the nearest money transfer service in Thailand’s Saraburi province. The 26-year-old Battambang native saves up every month and sends his aging mother around $200…

Tens of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers have returned to Cambodia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and more recently after an outbreak in migrant worker communities in Samut Sakhon province, which has since spread to other neighboring countries.

“When I saw others going back home, I felt like going home too. But I’m afraid I would be jobless at home,” he said on a Facebook Messenger call.

... Soeum Bunrith, deputy governor of Battambang province, said workers were returning because of the recent outbreak in Thailand, but that many were also coming back because they lost their jobs or wanted to be with their families during the pandemic…

Loeng Sophon, a Thailand-based project officer for Cambodian labor rights group Central, said workers were also returning because they had expired passports and visas or could not afford new costs imposed on workers who moved to a different factory, including paying for COVID-19 tests before they can accept a new job.

“Illegal migrant workers are facing an even tougher situation,” Sophon said. “Sometimes, authorities and local police go for inspections to find people who do not have documentation and they are fined if found guilty.”...