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Laos workers to return Thailand as borders reopen for migrants from neighbouring countries

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The Thai-Lao Friendship bridge. | Photo: Wikipedia.

For the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, Thailand will reopen its borders to migrant workers, especially from Laos, who are now granted permission to return to Thailand with the approval of their employers next week after a hiatus due to Covid-19. Reports say many people continue to cross the border illegally in search of jobs that pay better than what they can earn in their homeland.

The Laos Ministry of Labor and Social Services stated that traffickers and employers from Thailand sometimes helped the migrants flee from authorities as pre-employment approvals and expensive fees led many of them to try to enter the kingdom illegally.

An official told Benar News in anonymity that Thai employers occasionally call former workers and ask them to return to the kingdom, adding that brokers or middlemen are sometimes recruited to transport the workers to Thailand.

“They know all the ways to get them in.”

According to a Laos job recruiting firm, many workers are now attempting to enter without permission due to the exorbitant cost of roughly 30,000 baht (US$900) for paying visa fees and two compulsory Covid-19 tests. Besides, a 7 to 14-day quarantine awaits them before they can cross the border. But if they cross illegally with the help of a broker, the cost to enter will be only 7,000 to 9,000 baht.

“The fees they are charged to go to Thailand legally are very high, so the money they can make in one month by working in Thailand is less than what they will have paid to go there.”

In December last year, Laos requested Thai authorities to reduce the cost of a two-year visa for Lao workers from 2,000 baht ($60) to 500 baht ($15) and allow Lao workers who tested negative for the virus to enter without having to go through quarantine.

They also asked Thai authorities to enforce strong border patrols between the two countries to deter illegal entry and prevent migrants from becoming victims of human trafficking or violence.

On February 1, the first batch of 446 Cambodian employees will be authorised to work for firms in Chon Buri and Ayudhya provinces. Late last year, the government agreed to hire roughly 400,000 workers from Laos and Myanmar through a memorandum of agreement with private enterprises.

SOURCE: Benar News

 

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