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Workers seek passports

The Interior Ministry is rushing to print passports for thousands of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand before a March 31 deadline set by the neighbouring junta.

So far, the Interior Ministry has received a list of just 60,000 workers in need of passports, according to the General Department of Identification. But per Thailand’s count, some 680,000 Cambodian migrants will need passports come the deadline.

During a July to November registration window, the Thai Labour Ministry figures claim 681,571 Cambodian migrants came to One-Stop Service Centres in order to gain legal documents for employment.

So far, just 37,000 passports have been printed, said Mao Chandara, director of the Identification Department. But Chandara disputed Thailand’s tally of the remaining undocumented migrant workforce.

The push for legalising followed June’s mass exodus of Cambodian migrant workers from Thailand. They returned not long after.

“The Cambodian assumption of [the number of] undocumented migrant workers in Thailand is more than 200,000,” said Chandara, who said his department awaits further name lists from Thailand in order to issue more passports.

Once printed, the passports will be sent back to Thailand to be distributed at the same One-Stop Service Centres, he said.

In a post on the National Police website on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong was quoted as estimating the migrant workforce in Thailand as 700,000, of which, more than 420,000 have already obtained legal documents.

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