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A police officer watches over migrant construction workers yesterday after they were rounded up at an accommodation block in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Scores arrested in construction raid

More than 200 Vietnamese and Chinese nationals were arrested yesterday at construction sites on Koh Pich in a Ministry of Interior sweep targeting illegal migrant workers.

Police with the ministry picked up 131 Vietnamese nationals, including 21 females, after it was discovered that most had no relevant documents, including passports, allowing them to legally work in Cambodia.

Ouk Hay Seila, head of investigations at the General Department of Immigration, said that the Vietnamese workers would be expelled within a week.

“All of them were illegal workers at Koh Pich,” he said. “Thirty-six of them have passports, others have an ASEAN visa.

We will follow procedure by asking higher-ups to issue notices to expel them within one week at the latest,” he said.

Police also detained 84 Chinese nationals, including three women, in the same area.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Migrant construction workers sit in a truck yesterday after they were detained by authorities in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

The Chinese, while holding passports, were also unable to produce work visas or permits and fined $125 each, Hay Seila said, though none are expected to be deported.

Both groups of foreigners primarily found work in the country through subcontractors, though some came over independently.

Hay Seila added that he would question the involved subcontractors in relation to the case.

Meanwhile, Yan Thy, secretary at the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said that he had noticed Vietnamese workers pouring into Cambodia for many years in search of employment, often because the government and other institutions do not pay close attention to the issue.

He added that some companies only accept Vietnamese workers, and pay them a higher salary

“They can work as they want, and they entered illegally,” he said. “They can take work from Cambodian people, so that Cambodian migrants [must] go to other countries.”

However, a general manager at a local construction firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reverse was true, with emigration leading to a shortage of Cambodian workers and creating a need for Vietnamese migrants.

This year, police have arrested and deported more than 1,100 Vietnamese immigrants, according to officials.

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