Concern for children as Cambodian workers begin to flood back

national July 14, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Cambodian workers are migrating back to Thailand en-masse following a mass exodus last month in the wake of the coup. This movement has sparked safety concerns for young children travelling alongside their parents, says World Vision, one of the world's l

“Our staff working along the border are reporting groups of migrants travelling back into Thailand without waiting for legal documentation, thinking that the process would take a long time,” says Jason Evans, national director for World Vision in Cambodia. 
“Our major concern however, is for the children that are in tow as they are being put at increased risk by being taken into another country undocumented and unprotected.”
“As an organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of children and ensuring their safety regardless of race and nationality, our main goal is to provide assistance to migrants and their families, especially the affected children,” says Chitra Thumborisuth, director of World Vision Thailand.
“Cambodian children who go with their parents to work in Thailand, instead of living with grandparents or extended family in their community, become increasingly at-risk as they lack access to education, play environments, nutritious food, and face potential separation from their parents.
“From our experience of responding to the mass exodus of migrants from Thailand at Poipet border last month, we encountered many cases of lost children – who couldn’t find their parents as they left Thailand. If parents continue to migrate irregularly, children will continue to be separated from them,” said Evans, adding that more education on safe migration was needed before migrants depart.
“The governments of Thailand and Cambodia have pledged to find solutions for migrants to cross borders legally. All efforts need to be made to protect the safety of Cambodian workers and their families re-migrating to Thailand and expedite their regularisation as legal migrant workers,” said John Whan Yoon, manager for World Vision’s End Trafficking In Persons Programme. “We are looking forward to seeing fruitful cooperation and more efficient and effective implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding  Against Trafficking in Persons between the two countries. This way, we can ensure that all migrants, especially those with vulnerable children, won’t become victims of trafficking when they migrate.” 
Due to fears of a crackdown on illegal workers last month, at least 230,000 Cambodians fled back to Cambodia. Thai military personnel are posted at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew, to facilitate the workers’ return.

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