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12 Oct 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Civil society organizations are concerned over arrests of migrants as they are struggling with unemployment & adequate livelihoods

"In face of financial challenges, Cambodian migrant workers continue illegal border crossings", 12 October 2021

Battambang provincial police officials detained … more than 100 migrant workers allegedly attempting to cross illegally into Thailand despite ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Civil society groups say Cambodian migrant workers are gradually returning to Thailand due to inadequate livelihoods and joblessness in their home country. Land borders between the countries have been closed … but there is little sign of a slowdown in illegal crossings…

Battambang provincial police Chief Sat Kimsan confirmed … that more than 100 migrant workers had been detained that day in the province’s Kamrieng district…

… Undocumented migration has long been a challenge for both countries, but the issue has taken on heightened importance during the pandemic. As Cambodia and Thailand struggle to keep the coronavirus in check, migrant workers say they have little choice but to cross the border — whether or not it remains closed.

… Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator at rights group Adhoc, said people who are still crossing the border do so as they cannot earn income in Cambodia. During a period of economic recession, Chankea said, financial challenges such as bank debts are requiring workers to immigrate from their hometowns.

“They have no choice but to migrate to Thailand, although they have known the risks of COVID-19 and arrest by Thai authorities,” Chankea said.

“If they don’t migrate, how can they earn income in their local communities,” he said, adding that authorities have not prioritized finding new jobs for returned migrants.