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4 men rescued from trawler in Philippines

Four Cambodian crewmen were slated to be repatriated from the Philippines yesterday after escaping from a ship that reportedly forced them to work without compensation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Spokesman Chum Sonry said that on Thursday the men escaped from Blue Emperor 1, a ship belonging to New Unite HK Marine Shipping Ltd and flying a Tuvalu flag, while it was docked at the Port of Subic in the Philippines’ Luzon province.

Afterward, they managed to make contact with the Cambodian Embassy in Manila, which intervened on their behalf.

“They escaped from the ship because they were forced to work while ill and were not given their salaries as promised,” Sonry said in the statement.

He added that the embassy was speaking with Unite HK Marine to solve the salary issue, and that the International Organization for Migration was involved in facilitating the repatriation.

However, Brett Dixon, program manager at IOM Cambodia, denied having knowledge of the operation.

“We haven’t received any Cambodians from the Philippines,” he said yesterday. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hasn’t requested our assistance.”

Earlier this month, six Cambodians were saved from a slave trawler near the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Local rights group Adhoc reports it has received 74 complaints of labour exploitation abroad during the first half of this year.

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