NGOs Help Six More Workers to Repatriate From Malaysia

NGOs in Cambodia and Malaysia are working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to repatriate six of the 30 Cambodians who sought shelter at the country’s embassy after the Malaysian government started mass arrests of undocumented migrant workers on July 1.

Last week, the embassy’s labor affairs councilor, Nou Bunnara, said the office in Kuala Lumpur lacked the funds to repatriate the Cambodians and was seeking help from nongovernment groups to send them home.

This week, the Cambodian NGO Chab Dai said it was working with its partner in Malaysia, Tenaganita, to return six of the 30 workers. Chab Dai spokesman Joseph Arnhold said the NGOs had paid Malaysian authorities about $100 for each to cover the fees accrued for overstaying their visas and that the IOM was paying for their flights.

Chris Lom, regional spokesman for IOM, said a travel date for the six had yet to be set. “Their departure date will have to be coordinated with the Cambodian Embassy, which will have to process their travel documents and apply for their exit documentation,” he said.

Embassy officials could not be reached on Wednesday for comment.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said he had no information about the assistance NGOs were providing to repatriate the Cambodians staying at the embassy.

The embassy repatriated eight of the 30 Cambodians seeking shelter there—nine in total—on Friday and Saturday. Mr. Sounry said 21 were left and that he was unaware of any more Cambodians coming to the embassy seeking shelter as of Tuesday.

He also said there were no more arrests of Cambodians in Malaysia besides the 79 the ministry reported on July 14.

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