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Migrants get reprieve

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Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong stops to talk to the media at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday after returning from a trip to Thailand. Pha Lina

Migrants get reprieve

Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand have been granted an extension until March 2016 to register and remain in the country legally, following an official visit to Thailand from Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong.

The visit also saw 16 ancient artefacts officially handed back to the Kingdom by its neighbour.

After his return from the two-day trip, Namhong, who is also a deputy prime minister, said a new scheme should also soon be endorsed by Thailand allowing people from border communities to stay in Thailand for up to a month with just the use of a special border pass.

“We have agreed for these workers to cross the border into Thailand without having to use a passport,” said Namhong.

Many Cambodian people living along the border work in Thailand, and as part of the ongoing registration process, they have been offered the opportunity to sign up for social security in Thailand, even if they cross back into Cambodia every day.

Namhong’s visit comes less than two weeks after a deadline for Cambodian migrant workers to register for legal status passed.

Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who have not completed the registration process have now been given a reprieve from possible arrest and deportation.

While no date has been set for their return, Namhong said Thailand had agreed to allow Cambodian experts to inspect 20 more thought to belong to the country.

They are among dozens seized from a crime syndicate linked to former Thai Police Lieutenant Pongpat Chaypan and were likely looted during Cambodia’s civil war.

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