As workers continued streaming back across the Thai border into Cambodia yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered that 150 military trucks be sent to Poipet to assist with relocation efforts, Poipet Governor Ngor Meng Chroun said.
“Poipet is congested with Cambodian workers and the numbers of workers being sent back keeps growing,” Meng Chroun said, referring to repatriations instigated by Thailand’s junta.
Official government figures list 7,500 Cambodian workers deported over the first nine days of June, but rights groups say the number is significantly higher, with more than 20,000 being sent across the border.
Unconfirmed reports of up to nine Cambodian migrants being killed by Thai armed forces coupled with rumours of other abuse had deportees and rights groups concerned.
“Returnees have reported violent raids on houses where illegal immigrants are suspected of residing and incidences of the tearing-up of documentation entitling Cambodians to work legally in the country,” according to a statement released by rights group Adhoc.
Shelter, food and clean water are running low for the thousands surrounding the border office, said Joe Lowry, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration’s offices in Bangkok.
“People are remaining calm, but we need more buses to help transport people back to their home provinces. Many … were making next to nothing in Thailand and simply can’t afford to leave Poipet,” Lowry said.