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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Health Ministry pledges new care for returning migrants

A woman who formerly worked as a maid in Malaysia is chained up in Kampong Cham last year.
A woman who formerly worked as a maid in Malaysia is chained up in Kampong Cham last year. Heng Chivoan

Health Ministry pledges new care for returning migrants

Health Minister Mam Bunheng pledged to cooperate with the International Organization for Migration to take care of the healthcare and mental illness needs of returning migrant workers during a meeting in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

IOM regional migration health manager Maria Nanette Motus had requested the ministry’s assistance at the meet, noting that the issues had traditionally been dealt with by the IOM.

Repatriated migrant workers often face dire mental health issues upon their return to Cambodia, with little to no state assistance.

Some former maids repatriated from Malaysia suffer from such severe trauma that they are chained up by their own families.

“The ministry promises to cooperate with the IOM to take care of the health and mental illness of migrants who were saved from abroad,” Bunheng said during the meeting, according to a transcript provided by his secretary.

Details of what that cooperation would entail were not available yesterday. Neither the Health Ministry nor the IOM responded to requests for comment about the meeting.

Tim Sovanna, mother of former maid Moa Rithy, said her family had spent almost $5,000 since Rithy’s return from Malaysia in 2012 paying the costs of her numerous mental issues.

“Now she is a bit better. But I never let her go anywhere because I am afraid of losing her again,” she said.

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