Thailand to allow migrant workers to return home despite restrictions

Thailand will allow Myanmar migrant workers to return home after it extended the state of emergency until the end of June to control COVID-19, a Myanmar diplomat said.

U Wai Lin Maung, Myanmar labour attaché in Bangkok, said the Thai government will allow about 34,000 migrants who want to return home through border crossings after losing their jobs in the Kingdom.

“They extended the curfew order on May 28,” he said. “But…it will not affect the returnees.”

From May 1 to May 27, more than 5000 migrants returned from Thailand via the Mae Sot-Myawady border gate in Kayin State and the Ya Naung-Kawthoung border gate in Tanintharyi Region.

The government expected about 60,000 migrants to return from Thailand amid the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

U Peter Nyunt Maung, deputy chair of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, said the migrant workers would likely not be able to get their jobs back, as the Thai government would prioritise giving those jobs to its own people when its economy reopens.

He added that some 65,000 workers who were trying to get into Thailand when it shut its borders due to COVID-19 in January may also be out of work.

Thailand is the main destination for Myanmar’s migrant workforce. The International Office of Migration said there are an estimated 2.3 million Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand.

Myanmar has an estimated 4 million people working abroad. In 2019, about 305,000 people left the country to look for work.

Written by Tint Zaw Tun
Published on 1 June 2020

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