‘I don’t know when or if I will go back to Thailand’

‘I don’t know when or if I will go back to Thailand’

Thousands of illegal workers have passed through the small town of Aranyaprathet on the Cambodia-Thai border opposite Poipet.

This was one of many crossings flooded by up to 225,000 Cambodians who returned home last month.Many travelled with all their belongings, loaded up with plastic bags full of clothes, television sets, satellite dishes, fans and sleeping mats.

“I don’t know when or if I will go back to Thailand,” said Wan, 31, a Cambodian worker.

“I bought all these items with the money I earned, so I am taking them back home with me.”

Many were reluctant to leave their jobs in Thailand where they earned more money than they could in Cambodia. Pao, 22, sells clothes in a Bangkok shop, and picks up a monthly wage of least 12,000 baht ($370) a month.

“I’m only going home because my sister, who works with me, is worried about the situation and wants to go back,” said Pao. “I will wait for a week then I will consider going back to Bangkok to work.”

A crackdown by the Thai junta forced the majority of Cambodian migrants to return home.

Seng Soeun, 27, was employed in the construction sector before his boss warned him it was no longer safe for illegal Cambodians to be working in Thailand.

He fled towards the border but fearing retribution for working

illegally he hid in the forest and escaped the constant patrols. “In Thailand, life is better than in Cambodia in terms of earning money,” said Soeun. “But I am Cambodian, I cannot speak Thai, so my life is at risk [that is why I left].”

This article was compiled from a story written by Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai and Nanchanok Wongsamuth in the Bangkok Post

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