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Overseas agencies aid migrant workers

CAMBODIA has sent roughly 20,000 labourers to work in South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand through a network of international employment agencies that protect them from exploitation, say officials at the Ministry of Labour.

Oum Mean, undersecretary of state at the ministry, said the government encourages Cambodian labourers to apply through such agencies, which would guarantee fair treatment while overseas.

"Our legal workers are protected," Oum Mean said Thursday, during a consultation meeting on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers. "[But] those workers ... cheated into working illegally are faced with many problems." He added that about 90 percent of Cambodia's overseas labourers went through the proper channels.

But Sinapan Samydorai, convener of the Task Force on Asean migrant workers, said there were many challenges facing itinerant workers. "We have agencies at the grassroots level that educate people about the difficulties of the work," he said. "And then we let them make their own decisions."

Ministry official Nhem Kimhoy said that the Kingdom's 17 registered employment agencies have sent legal labourers to Malaysia since 1998, to South Korea since 2003 and to Thailand since 2006. "In 2009, Cambodia will also send labourers to work in Qatar," he added.

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