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Migrants told to get permits

Cambodian migrant workers queue at a checkpoint on the Thailand-Cambodia border
Cambodian migrant workers queue at a checkpoint on the Thailand-Cambodia border near the town of Poipet last week. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Migrants told to get permits

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday called on all undocumented Cambodians in Thailand to register for a legal work permit at one of that country’s newly opened one-stop service centres.

Thailand’s junta began piloting the latest temporary registration centres at the end of June and has since rolled out additional sites countrywide. At the centres, workers are required to undergo background screenings, health checks and purchase health insurance before applying for a permit.

Neth Serey, Cambodian consul general in Sa Kaeo, was unable to confirm how many Cambodians have so far registered, though NGOs have reported that thousands of migrants have been lining up daily at the busier sites. The Thai Development Research Centre estimated that prior to the recent exodus of more than 250,000 Cambodian migrants, around 900,000 undocumented foreign labourers worked in the country.

For returned migrants looking to get back to Thailand, the ministry’s statement yesterday said passport-issuing offices will be opened at four locations along the border in Poipet, O’Smach, Cham Yeam and Pailin, which are in addition to current offices in Phnom Penh and Battambang.

“We were informed by the Ministry of Labour that the new system will start tomorrow,” said An Bunhak, president of recruitment agency Top Manpower Co Ltd. “We’ll wait to see how the new system works and then inform our provincial offices to start calling the workers.”

Though the Kingdom’s recent, sudden influx of workers has yet to result in an increase in applicants at recruitment agencies, Banteay Meanchey Governor Korsum Saroeurt said many labourers are continuing to try to surreptitiously cross the border, only to find themselves quickly taken back.

According to Saroeurt, 10,723 Cambodians were repatriated from the end of June to last Thursday, and as many as 40 per cent of those migrants had recently crossed only to find themselves immediately caught and repatriated.

“Workers: do not waste your time and money; stop believing brokers. Thailand will not allow the migrants who cross illegally to stay anymore,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON

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