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Article

Cambodia: Thousands of migrant workers returning from Thailand face economic uncertainty over the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic as loan payments are due

"As Loan Payments Approach, Indebted Migrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty", 16 April 2020

... Around a hundred Cambodian migrant workers were waiting to cross into the country. They were informed that the Cambodia-Thai border had been closed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus…

…, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said 68,000 migrant workers had returned from Thailand since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak…, the interior minister said border officials were unable to monitor and provide health checkups for the thousands of workers rushing to cross the border before its closure ...

A 2019 International Organization for Migration report showed that a third of migrant workers surveyed were unemployed before leaving Cambodia, …

… Informal financial service providers have been a traditional source of unregulated, and pricey, debt for Cambodians, …

While they are still prevalent as a primary source of debt, a 2015 International Finance Corporation report pointed to the possibility that these lenders were also being used to supplement MFI loan payments, hence leading to the low rates of delinquency seen in the microfinance sector.

…, local rights groups Licadho and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut released a report highlighting the rights abuses linked to the MFI sector, especially on land tenure security, forced migration and child labor. The report’s case studies also showed that respondents had used informal loans to pay back MFI monthly installments.

… Given their exposure to high levels of debt, Khun Tharo, program coordinator at labor rights group Central, said returning migrant workers were especially vulnerable during the economic slowdown instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic…