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2 Jul 2021

Ngay Nai, CamboJA

Cambodia: UN claims that 30% of 200,000 returning migrants have no incomes while over 50% are indebted

"Nearly one-third of returning migrants have no income: UN report", 2 July 2021

Cambodian migrant workers have streamed back into their home country due to the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, but for many their return has only continued their economic challenges.

Due to job losses, economic restrictions and lockdowns in their host countries, about 200,000 Cambodian migrant workers have repatriated since the beginning of the pandemic ... Now, nearly 30 percent of their households have no income at all, according to a recent UN report, and more than 50 percent of these returned workers are indebted.

Though migrant laborers are often driven by hardships, the report offers compelling evidence of the vulnerabilities returning workers face amidst the continuing pandemic. The report, …, also found a gendered element to these challenges, suggesting female returned migrant workers are more likely than men to have no money and face more difficulties finding employment.

Phoem Rorn, 43, is one such worker.

“My family and I have worked as construction workers in Thailand for almost 10 years,” Rorn told CamboJA. “But …, we decided to return to Cambodia due to the fear of COVID-19 when it first hit Thailand. I was so scared at that time, so coming back to my home county was the best option we could think of.”…

Moeun Tola, executive director of the rights group CENTRAL said stories like Rorn are common for returning migrants who struggle to find new jobs.

“They cannot pay back their debts, which is why some illegally cross the border back into Thailand despite the high risk of getting infected with a deadly virus,” Tola said…