TWO women from Battambang province who were seeking work in Thailand drowned while fleeing Thai border authorities last week, a Cambodian border official said.
Dy Phen, deputy director of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said the two women crossed into Thailand illegally with about 20 other migrants on the night of September 30th to look for work in Pattani province.
Thai soldiers tried to stop the car at a checkpoint about 10 kilometres inside Thailand, Dy Phen said, but the car drove through the checkpoint and then stopped after another kilometre because of a flat tyre. Thai soldiers fired warning shots into the air, and the migrants fled, he said.
Dy Phen said officials believed two women – Muon Saroeut, 59, and her daughter, 15-year-old Soeun Chantrea – leaped into a canal in an attempt to escape. “They are illegal migrants who were brought into Thailand by a broker, so they feared arrest”, he said. Both women drowned, and Thai authorities cooperated in arranging for their bodies to be repatriated yesterday, Dy Phen said.
Taing Lay, a 25-year-old prospective migrant from Kampong Cham province, and her 5-year-old daughter also dove into the canal and nearly suffered the same fate but were saved by Thai soldiers and sent back to Cambodia over the weekend, Dy Phen said.
He said that the other 20 or so migrants remain in hiding somewhere in Thailand.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that consular officials in Sa Kaeo province were negotiating with Thai officials to seek compensation for the families of the women who died, but that they “have yet to have any result”. He said a medical examination had confirmed that the two women had drowned.
Also repatriated yesterday was the body of a 27-year-old Cambodian man, Lam Thy, who died on Saturday from injuries suffered during a fight in Sa Kaeo province, Dy Phen said. The man had been working as a guard at a market.