Most Cambodian child beggars in Bangkok in 2006 were not trafficked or working for gangs, according to findings presented yesterday at a conference in Phnom Penh on regional migration. Instead they went with relatives to the Thai capital, where they could make more than $30 a day from panhandling.
Of 140 Cambodian child beggars interviewed by Friends International in 2006, 80 percent were living in Bangkok with their mothers or relatives, according to a presentation yesterday by researcher Van Khemreth.
Of the 53 children who answered questions on earnings, 80 percent said they made more than $4.67 a day, with 19 percent saying they raked in anywhere from $23.21 to $30.90 in a day’s work. The research was an attempt to address questions raised by tales of raw economic exploitation of child beggars in Bangkok, according to a copy of the 2006 report.
Other findings dealt with living conditions of beggar children. For example, of the 52 children who answered questions on where they lived, 94 percent said they slept in a rented room with access to electricity and water.
A UN official expressed caution yesterday when asked about the conclusion, though dated, that most Cambodian child beggars aren’t victims of human trafficking, although he said he hadn’t read the study.
“The result might be correct and might not be correct,” said Lim Tith, national project coordinator at the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking. “There may have been some children who have been trained to answer these kind of questions to avoid trouble with authorities.”
He said the UN hasn’t studied Cambodian child beggars in Bangkok.
Between 1,500 and 3,000 Cambodian beggars of all ages live in the Thai capital, an estimate based on repatriation through the Poipet border crossing, according to Mr Tith.
In comparison, around 240,000 Cambodian migrant workers live in Thailand legally and illegally, he said. A forthcoming UN report found that 23 percent of these workers were trafficked, he added.