Thai workers in debt eager to return to Israel after conflict cessation

Picture courtesy of ThaiPost

The cessation of conflict in Israel is eagerly awaited by Thai workers who have returned home, as they are burdened by significant debts that require their return to work. Among them is 38 year old Thaworn Aksornsue, a recent returnee from Israel where he spent seven months labouring on a farm, earning approximately 55,000 baht (US$ 1,507) monthly. A substantial part of his earnings was sent back to his family in Thailand’s Khon Kaen province.

Thaworn’s work placement in Israel’s Ofakim town was part of a state-to-state labour cooperation scheme between the two nations. With Ofakim being a mere 25 kilometres from Gaza, the conflict that erupted on October 7 made him opt for Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs repatriation programme, and he returned to his home country on October 16.

Thaworn’s circumstances have left him in a debt exceeding 500,000 baht (US$ 13,706), a sum that covers car instalments, household expenses, and costs related to house renovations. This debt was accumulated through his savings and borrowed money from relatives for recruitment fees.

“The situation broke out unexpectedly, and I do not have an alternative income,” Thaworn expresses. “I might have to work on small gigs to earn enough to pay the expenses during my stay in Thailand. If I have the opportunity to return [to Israel], I will. Because I have many more debts.”

He wishes for the Thai government to ease the process for Thai workers to resume farming work in Israel once it is safe. His father, 65 year old Anan Aksornsue, confessed that the family had encouraged Thaworn’s return due to safety concerns. The family is now compelled to seek employment instead of depending on Thaworn’s Israeli income, reported Bangkok Post.

However, the conflict has left some Thai workers stranded in Israel, unable to return to Thailand. In a house in Tambon Khlong Lan Phatthana, Kamphaeng Phet’s Khlong Lan district, 55 year old Supin Yurong, anxiously awaits a call from her son, 34 year old Manat Yurong.

Manat has been working on a tomato farm in Israel since late May, earning approximately 70,000 baht (1,919) monthly. He planned to work in Israel for five years to save money before returning home. His last call to his mother, on October 11, just four days after the surprise terror attacks by Hamas, conveyed the proximity of escalating attacks and his imminent evacuation to a shelter.

His worker camp was situated 20 kilometres from the initial Hamas attacks, and Israeli airstrikes were visible from the camp. Since that call, Supin has been unable to contact her son.

“I watch the news every day and see the names of Thai workers being repatriated, but my son’s name is not on the list,” she shares.

“I have tried to contact the Labour Ministry and related parties. Even though they said they would look into the matter, none of them have gotten back to me.”

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Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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