Category Archives: Cambodia

Migrant workers ‘not crossing’ into Thailand

Oddar Meanchey provincial governor Pen Kosal said while more than 15,000 migrant workers had returned from Thailand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, no one had illegally returned through the province’s three border checkpoints.

Speaking during a press conference at the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, Kosal said the province had three official border checkpoints with Thailand – O’Smach, Choam and Chubkiri.

The three passages had been closed since March, but after negotiations between the authorities of both countries, O’Smach and Choam have reopened for the exchange of goods.

“In total, 15,554 Cambodian migrants, 7,024 of them women, returned through the borders in Oddar Meanchey province. That’s the number of people entering through O’Smach and Choam,” he said.

He claimed that no Cambodian migrant workers had illegally returned to Thailand via the three checkpoints, but through the agreement, he said Cambodians could enter Thailand for medical treatment if they had proper letters from health professionals.

“No migrant workers have gone back [to Thailand]. Oddar Meanchey province doesn’t have corridors as other provinces do. Our province has only three passages.

“One passage is closed and the other two are only open for the exchange of goods or if a Cambodian needs medical treatment in Thailand and has paperwork to prove it. If they [Cambodians] secretly climb the mountains, they will find mines. No one dares climb the Dangrek mountains,” Kosal said.

Concerning quarantines for migrant workers in the province, Kosal said the situation was under control. Of the 234 test samples from migrant workers, he said all have been negative except for seven which are still being analysed.

Rights group Adhoc provincial coordinator Srey Naren said he had not seen migrant workers crossing illegally into Thailand of late.

In January and February, he said Cambodian migrant workers had crossed illegally into Thailand to log timber but were sent back by Thai authorities.

“Since Thailand closed its borders, our people have been allowed to return to Cambodia. But returning to Thailand is extremely difficult.

“Exchanging goods is more difficult in Cambodia than in Thailand because Thais can enter our country and buy crops directly from us. But we cannot do so. We have to place orders on goods,” he said.

Naren also expressed concern over border closures, saying if they continued for much longer, it will affect people’s livelihoods because they cannot keep up with daily demands. Income from business along the borderlines has also been lost, he said.

He called on the government to establish a budget package to help people living along the borders.

Written by Long Kimmarita
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 19 May 2020

Vulnerable migrant workers get UNFPA aid amid virus

In a bid to help the government address the urgent needs of vulnerable migrant workers who have returned home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated 1,670 dignity kits and communication materials to the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT).

Through the committee and relevant authorities at national and sub-national levels, the materials will be distributed to vulnerable returnees, especially pregnant women and those most at risk of gender-based violence.

The kits include basic hygiene items and advice for pregnant and lactating women to help protect themselves from Covid-19, minimise infection risks, practice social distancing, and cope with stress while confined to home.

The communication materials also include necessary information on gender-based violence and violence against women during the pandemic.

UNFPA acting representative to Cambodia Daniel Alemu said: “UNFPA is calling on governments and partners to prioritise sexual and reproductive health of women and girls and respond urgently to their needs.

“Supporting people affected by humanitarian crises is not only the right thing but also the wise thing to do to save lives and build resilience to avoid Covid-19 from cycling back to the vulnerable people and communities around the globe.

“We must maintain continuity of maternal health and other sexual and reproductive health services, including antenatal and postnatal care and access to safe birth.

“Frontline health workers must also be protected from Covid-19 and be provided with personal protective equipment to treat infected patients and continue to provide essential services,” he said.

Last month, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said more than 85,000 migrant workers had returned from various countries.

Through Battambang province’s Daung international border crossing alone, more than 15,000 migrant workers passed through for Khmer New Year, said the provincial administration.

It said the workers hailed from different provinces including Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Pursat and Svay Rieng.

Provincial governor Nguon Ratanak said during a press conference last week that some 14,000 workers who returned through his province had completed their 14-day quarantine and have been cleared of Covid-19, while 1,000 others remained isolated.

Ratanak said there are still migrant workers returning to Cambodia through international border checkpoints between Battambang and Thailand.

Written by Phuon Chansereivuth
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 19 May 2020

Governors told to prevent illegal border crossings

In a letter to governors of provinces bordering neighbouring countries on Wednesday, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng introduced measures to prevent Cambodians from crossing illegally into neighbouring countries.

“I would like to inform [the governors] that recently some people have crossed the borders illegally while those neighbouring countries are in a state of emergency to prevent and stop the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sar Kheng wrote.

He said the measures are being put in place to strengthen border controls, maintain peace, and protect the people by preventing the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia.

“The Ministry of Interior asks the provincial governors and the heads of the provincial Unified Command Committees, and the principal administrations to immediately call a meeting to advise all police forces along the borders to collaborate and introduce measures to stop illegal entry and exit via corridors bordering neighbouring countries,” he said.

Sar Kheng also advised the provincial governors close to the borders to search for and arrest intermediaries who enticed Cambodians to cross the borders illegally.

“In case the police in neighbouring countries arrest Cambodians who cross the borders, the provincial administrations have to contact and coordinate [the case] with the police in the other country quickly to request they send them back to Cambodia and pay attention to health checks, implement quarantine measures and transport,” he said.

Sar Kheng said neighbouring countries are still in a state of emergency to stop the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the provincial administrations have to educate, advice and disseminate information to locals so that they will not travel to neighbouring countries in the short term.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for data on the number of people who were enticed by intermediaries to migrate to bordering countries.

Written by Voun Dara
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 14 May 2020

A misunderstanding at the Thai border

Thai authorities yesterday prevented Cambodia from putting up an additional tent and set up a machine for scanning COVID-19 to check the health of migrant workers crossing the border at O’Smach international checkpoint.

Oddar Meanchey provincial governor Pen Kosal said yesterday Thai authorities came over after seeing a working group set up a tent with equipment close to the borders between the two countries.

“We set up a tent and a machine to scan temperatures of workers about two metres from the border,” he said.

“After we explained we will remove it with the improvement of the COVID-19 situation, they agreed and left,” Mr. Kosal said. Thailand still has its borders shut to travellers, but it allows goods to be transported into the country.

Klork Hout, chief of the provincial health department, said yesterday an argument ensued when the Thai authorities demanded the tent be demolished.

Mr Hout said a new tent measuring three by five metres was set up on Wednesday to scan the temperatures of migrant workers crossing the border.

“They also wanted to ban entry of vehicles transporting goods from Cambodia to Thailand, but after negotiating with our border police chief of O’Smach checkpoint, they relented and allowed the continuation of vehicles going across with goods,” he said.

“On an average, there are 100 people who cross the border every day from Thailand to Cambodia,” he said. Since March 23, 2,422 migrant workers from Oddar Meanchey province crossed the borders.

“Only 21 migrant workers are now left in the quarantine centres. The other workers have been allowed to return home.

“212 migrant workers were tested for COVID-19 and all the results came back negative,” Mr Hout said.

Written by Khuon Narim
Source: Khmer Times
Published on 15 May 2020

Only 1,000 out of 15,000 migrant workers still quarantined in Battambang

Battambang provincial governor yesterday announced that there are only 1,000 migrant workers who are still in self-quarantine out of 15,000 who were isolated after they returned from Thailand for the Khmer New Year.

Speaking at a press conference at the Council of Ministers, Governor Nguon Ratanak said samples of 500 of them were taken after they showed symptoms but they were later cleared.

Mr Ratanak noted the province only had eight cases of COVID-19 and all had since recovered.

“Our officials checked their [the migrants] health at the border after they crossed over from Thailand,” he said.

Mr Ratanak said that most of the migrant workers who returned from Thailand always arrived at the border at night, which required health officials to work day and night to examine them and ensure they were not infected.

“Now the cleared migrant have returned to their home provinces,” he added.

Mr Ratanak also said a few days ago, 100 migrant workers tried to cross back to Thailand but they were arrested by Thai authorities and sent back as the country has closed its border to prevent the spread of the virus.

Battambang provincial health department director Voeun Bunret said health officials have been working fast to list the medical histories of returnee migrant workers before putting them in quarantine.

He said returnees must undergo self-quarantine for 14 days. If someone has COVID-19, they will be sent to treatment centres until they recover.

Mr Bunret said authorities had already prepared some schools where patients will be quarantined and officials are continuing efforts to prevent a virus spread in the community.

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said on Monday 92,000 migrant workers who returned from Thailand were tested and results for all came back negative for the virus.

“There are still migrant workers who come back from Thailand. The ministry has a working group at the border to examine their health and recently in Banteay Meanchey, samples of some of them were taken. So far, no one has tested positive,” he said.

Source: Khmer Times
Published on 14 May 2020

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