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Unofficial crossings at Thai border reopened

Unofficial crossings at Thai border reopened

Cambodian and Thai authorities have agreed to reopen several unofficial border crossings in Banteay Meanchey province, two weeks after announcing they would close the checkpoints to stop smuggling, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

Si Chheang, a police officer at one of the passages in Malai district, said officials from both countries decided to reverse the November 3 decision to shut the crossings to allow farmers on both sides to trade and migrant workers from Cambodia to work in Thailand.

Chheang said local Thai and Cambodian officials met on Tuesday to establish the conditions for reopening the crossing, which included a requirement that Cambodians working across the border return home before the end of the day.

He said the decision was in part prompted by requests from Thai farm owners who needed labourers. “Yesterday morning there were about 30 villagers who crossed and went to work in Thailand, where farmer representatives and Thai authorities waited [to greet] them.”

Two similar passages close to the official Poipet international border checkpoint were also reopened. Another two in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district should open this week.

But while Cambodian labourers may be in demand, a lack of documents meant many were soon deported, said Nou Pich, deputy director of border relations at Doung border checkpoint in Battambang province’s Komrieng district. Pich said Thai authorities deported 165 people on Tuesday via his checkpoint, most of them locals.

Reached yesterday, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Governor Suon Bovor maintained that problems such as smuggling and trafficking could be avoided.

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