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Thousands not yet deported

Thousands not yet deported

121218 06

Migrant labourers are returned to Cambodia by Thai border police at the Poipet border in June. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

About 150,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand still have yet to be deported after missing the Friday deadline to complete Thailand’s nationality verification process, which would have allowed them to stay in the country legally, Cambodian border police said yesterday.

“None of the Cambodian workers have been sent back, because I have not yet been informed about this,” said Leak Romnea, the chief of administration for the Banteay Meanchey province immigration police in Poipet, who maintained that all workers deported from Thailand must report to him.

“I am not sure about whether Cambodian officials in Thailand are intervening for them in Thailand, or how,” he added.

After three days of relative quiet on the Western front, however, Thai officials confirmed yesterday that no such intervention had taken place, and that they would be moving ahead with deportation plans.  

Pravit Khiengpol, director general of the Thai Ministry of Labour’s Department of Employment, said in a statement that some 70,000 Cambodians had successfully completed the process, but that the remaining 150,000 should report to border immigration departments for deportation.

Dr Somkiat Chayasriwong, permanent secretary to the Thai Ministry of Labour, concurred, saying that while no deal had been struck to let undocumented Cambodians remain, a program was in the works to let them come back legally.

“The undocumented migrant workers or Cambodian workers will be deported from the country, but we will make sure [there are] some measures to let them go through the legalising process, but I can’t tell you now what the measure is because it is not yet finished,” he said.

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