More than 100 panicking families who have lost contact with relatives working abroad filed complaints to the rights group Adhoc in just a two-month period that ended on January 31, representatives of the organisation said yesterday.
The 102 complaints mark a sharp increase from the 76 filed with the organisation in the first 11 months of the past year, Lim Mony, deputy head of the woman’s section said.
But she said this did not necessarily represent an increase in the number of Cambodians disappearing in foreign countries.
“Because families from other provinces seem to have panicked over their sons and daughters who work abroad since the government ban, and they have not received phone calls from them, they’ve filed complaints to Adhoc,” she said.
In October, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a moratorium forbidding labour recruitment firms from sending migrant domestic workers – primarily maids – to Malaysia amid recurring violent abuse and exploitation scandals.
In Kampong Chhnang province alone, 40 complaints had been filed in the past two weeks, Lim Mony said.
Adhoc provincial Kampong Chhnang coordinator Sam Chankea said his office had been overwhelmed by the complaints and had stopped taking on fresh cases because they were too backed up.
One of those who complained was Chea Mon, from Kampong Speu province, who has not seen her son in more than 11 years, since he travelled to Thailand in search of a lucrative salary.
After repeatedly travelling to Phnom Penh International Airport to greet repatriated groups of trafficked Cambodian fishermen, hoping in vain her son would be amongst them, she has turned to Adhoc for help.
“I used to file complaints to the local authorities in my village, but for more than 10 years this was not been effective,” she said, adding that police finally directed her to NGOs when she last travelled to the airport.
The Ministry of Interior has reported that at least 12,000 Cambodians were repatriated from abroad in 2011.