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7 Aug 2021

Khy Sovuthy, CamboJA

Cambodia: Migrant workers struggle at the borders between Cambodia and Thailand as COVID-19 positive cases surge while the border is temporarily closed

"Challenges for migrants trapped at makeshift border camps", 7 August 2021

As Cambodian migrant workers continue to return to the closed border amid the worsening COVID surge in Thailand, forest tent camps are proliferating, raising concerns for the health and safety of the workers — some of whom are traveling with infants.

Near the Boeng Trakuon checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province, a group of 23 Cambodians, including two babies, have been camped out … following an arduous, expensive journey from Thailand’s Songkla province.

“I am very tired because I walked a long way and I held my three-months-old baby and my husband carried our clothes and packages. I think that we walked and ran to escape from Thai authorities like in the war regime,” said Ren Sreyna, 29…

… Phun Chhin, coordinator of rights group Licadho in Banteay Meanchey province, said the high rates of COVID-19 in Thailand had frightened many Cambodians into returning home, but many did not know the border had been shut.

“I think that Cambodian authorities should… bring them to some place inside Cambodia — it is better than letting them stay along the border of Thailand-Cambodia where they lack food, shelter, and medicine,” he said.

Loeng Sophon, a Thailand-based project officer for Cambodian labor rights group Central …, said Cambodian migrant workers are returning in part because if they fall ill they are unlikely to receive treatment in Thailand.

“The reason that they want to return to Cambodia is because if they tested positive for COVID-19, they do not have enough beds for treatment” said Sophon…