Shelters Opened For Migrants In South Korea

Cambodian embassy officials have opened three emergency shelters in South Korea for migrants embroiled in workplace conflicts or who face abuse at the hands of their employers.

Up to 60 people can be housed in the facilities, opened in response to workers asking the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul for temporary accommodation, said Cambodia’s Ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche.

“Brothers and sisters who are migrant workers staying at the shelters are mostly involved with shift work or work-related accidents or labor abuses,” he said in a Facebook message on Thursday.

“During the period of finding new work, our brothers and sisters were faced with many challenges, such as paying their rent while they were not making any money.”

The shelters in the Gimhae, Asan and Suwon regions were opened in collaboration with the Labor Ministry and the Decho Association for Khmer Migrant Workers and Employees, Mr. Dimanche said. They are partly funded by South Korean business owners.

A fourth shelter is scheduled to open in Uijeongbu city next week and two more will open in Seoul and Suwon in January, he added.

There is no limit on duration of stay, and both men and women can live in the shelters free-of-charge while looking for work, he said.

Men Chinda, a 31-year-old Cambodian-South Korean who oversees the shelter in Suwon, said 13 workers, including four women, were currently staying there.

“We cover utility costs so migrant workers only have to contribute money between themselves to buy food for cooking,” she said.

Migrant worker Kim Sear, 24, had been sleeping in churches after leaving a job at a farm and said the shelter offered her stability while she looked for another position.

“I feel safe and happy at the shelter where I do not need to pay,” she said. “The shelter is situated in a busy area of town with nearby train services so it’s easy for traveling too.”

Mr. Dimanche said the embassy was also planning to open shelters for Cambodian women divorcing their husbands.

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