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4 Aug 2021

Khy Sovuthy & Sam Sopich, CamboJA

Cambodia: As govt. announce temporary border closures, Cambodian migrant workers are unable to return home from Thailand amid Delta variant COVID-19 surge

"Hundreds of Cambodian migrant workers blocked at border after Covid lockdown", 4 August 2021

Hundreds Cambodian migrant workers have been blocked from re-entering Cambodia since the government closed the Thai-Cambodian border … for two weeks to slow the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Loeng Sophon, a Thailand-based project officer for Cambodian labor rights group Central, said his group recorded at least 500 trapped workers at just two border checkpoints, though there were likely more.

“…, more than 300 migrant workers were blocked at O’Beichoan checkpoint and more than 200 people were blocked at Malai checkpoint,” he said, adding that he does not know whether any of the group was eventually allowed in, but that new workers have continued to make their way to the border checkpoints.

… Soum Chankea, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey province said that while Cambodian authorities had distributed some food and rice, more was needed.

“It is not enough [food assistance] for them because there were 63 unofficial checkpoints in Banteay Meanchey province,” he said. Some workers, said Chankea, after being blocked from entering Cambodia had simply set up camp in the forests—causing concerns for their health, as well as for the prevention of the spread of COVID.

“The government should have a plan about when they can return, where we can put them, and if they increase more and more, what can we do,” he said.

Srey Naren, Adhoc coordinator in Oddar Meanchey province, said other migrant workers had been locked down at their worksites, making it difficult to supply them with aid.