Nearly 6,000 Cambodians were deported from Thailand in the month of January, a massive increase over the average monthly deportee rate, a Poipet border official said yesterday.
“Generally, the border checkpoint sees anywhere from 300 to 1,000 Cambodians returning each week,” said Sith Luos, provincial anti-human trafficking police chief. In January, noted Mr Luos, there were around 6,000 Cambodian deported.
Mr Luos said he couldn’t speculate on the reason for the jump but urged Cambodians to stop going to Thailand for jobs, saying it was no longer necessary.
“Cambodia is becoming more developed, there’s no need to work abroad,” he said. “I appeal to people to please stop emigrating to Thailand, because it is very dangerous.”
Counted among those 6,000 were hundreds of Cambodian beggars who were rounded up in Bangkok in early January and sent through Poipet on Jan 11, noted Mr Luos and others.
Thani Thongphakdi, spokesman for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he didn’t have information on whether January’s figure was higher than usual, but said despite the large beggar roundup at the beginning of the month–557 were deported in a single day after a high-profile Bangkok sweep–there was no concerted crackdown on Cambodians in place.
“It was done within the framework of our MOU with Cambodia on combating human trafficking,” Mr Thani said. “We believe that the beggars who enter Thailand are victims of human trafficking.”
“These activities are pretty much routine,” he said, referring to the roundup.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said he could not confirm the high January figure, but added that despite the beggar sweep, he was not under the impression that there was any sort of concerted round-up of Cambodians being undertaken by the Thai government.
“I have not had any signal about that,” he said. “Normally the Thai authorities send the illegal workers, sometimes beggars, back into Cambodia. This is normal.”