More than 200 migrants have been caught illegally crossing the Myanmar border into Kanchanaburi over the past 4 days. Many of the Burmese people detained by border patrol officers say they were coming to Thailand for work and had paid off brokers to set them up with jobs.
Due to the influx of migrants crossing the border, provincial authorities called an urgent meeting with the Thai-Myanmar border committee to come up with a solution. Thailand’s Labour Ministry has also set up 6 teams to handle issues involving cases of migrants working illegally and employers hiring undocumented migrants.
The ministry’s efforts to tackle illegal labour and trafficking are efforts to help contain the spread of Covid-19. The last wave of Covid-19 infections in January and December was concentrated at a fishing hub in Samut Sakhon, a coastal province southwest of Bangkok, affecting a large migrant population who worked and lived in the area. Some have said the virus may have been imported to Thailand through illegal labour trafficking.
Since the outbreak in Samut Sakhon, shedding light on the large undocumented migrant worker population, the Thai government allowed migrant workers who were living in Thailand to apply for a work permit by February 13.
The ministry is now targeting the employers and stakeholders who are linked to illegal migrant labour as well as migrants who enter and work in Thailand illegally, and migrant workers who have not submitted the required documents for a work permit by the deadline.
Over the past week, there have been numerous reports of migrant arrests at the Thai-Myanmar border. From April 26 to 29, border patrol officers arrested 203 migrants in Kanchanaburi’s Muang and Sai Yok districts. According to the Bangkok Post, all of the migrants were from the Dawei township in Myanmar and they had arranged jobs in Thailand.
Some migrants say they paid a Myanmar job broker 12,000 baht to 15,000 baht to arrange a job and transportation from the border. A guide led them through the forest in Myanmar into Thailand. Some of the migrants waited for 3 nights to be picked up and they ran out of food and water. They were caught by border patrol when they walked down the mountain for more food.
Some say they were going to work in Mahachai area, the epicentre of the last Covid-19 outbreak. Others say they were going to work in Samut Prakan, Ratchaburi and Bangkok.
SOURCES: Bangkok Post | National News Bureau of Thailand
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