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Study: Cambodian kids more likely to emigrate

Cambodian children and youth are more likely to migrate for work than those in Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, according to a new research study by World Vision.

Approximately 20 per cent of 869 Cambodian children and youth (aged 12-25) surveyed by the NGO in border areas had travelled for work, compared to 19 per cent for Laos, 11 per cent for Myanmar and just 9 per cent for Vietnam.

The study, released yesterday, also found that the majority of young migrants in Cambodia and Laos were migrating to work in another country (83 per cent and 71 per cent, respectively), while Vietnamese and Myanmar nationals mostly travelled within their home countries.

Albert Yu, communications director for World Vision in East Asia, credited the relatively higher numbers of young Cambodian migrants to the ease of crossing the Thai border and the strong presence of informal brokers promising jobs.

“The research has shown that only about 1 in 3 Cambodian children and youth actually migrated with the proper identity documents (least likely to travel with identity documents compared to the other countries), which means many have taken the irregular routes of migration into Thailand,” he said in an email.

A contributing “push factor”, he added, was that young Cambodians “were more likely than peers from other countries to personally know someone who had migrated for work” and seen them successfully sending money home to their family.

The study also found that “having a negative experience at last migration was not significantly associated with planning not to re-migrate within the next 12 months”. Such negative experiences include excessive work hours, pay withholding, assault, and most commonly, dangerous working conditions.

“This is the first time we can confirm, with empirical evidence, that prevention work relying on raising awareness is not enough. Young people will continue to migrate,” said John Whan Yoon, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons regional program manager.

“It’s time trafficking prevention agencies shift the focus of prevention work to safe migration.”

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