Though relations with Thailand regarding Cambodian migrants crossing the border for work are improving, the number crossing illegally, regular violence and a recent move by Thai authorities to deport pregnant migrants still demonstrate difficulties, officials said.
The Cambodian government is trying to negotiate work permits for more than 180,000 Cambodians working illegally in Thailand, said Minister of Labor and Vocational Training Nhep Bunchin.
“We have asked [Thai authorities] not to beat, shoot and kill Cambodians who enter Thailand to work,” said Sam Chit, deputy police chief of Banteay Meanchey province, which borders Thailand’s Sakeo province.
“Since we have made requests to them again and again in meetings, now it is better,” he said.
In addition to those living in Thailand, many Cambodian workers commute across the border on a daily basis.
An official at the Poipet checkpoint estimated that 6,000 to 7,000 Cambodians cross at that checkpoint every day to work as laborers or sell their wares in markets.
The $6 border pass that would allow for legal overnight stay is too expensive for many, so they must either pay 10 baht (about $0.25) per day and return in the evening or cross the border illegally.
Violence at the border also continues.
On Dec 12 Thai soldiers fired at three Cambodians bringing newly purchased motorbikes across the border illegally, wounding one of them. On Chen, 31, was shot in his right arm, said O’Chrou district police Chief Nuth Ly.
Government officials also said they were unaware that Thai agencies are planning to deport 9,383 pregnant immigrants—some of them likely to include Cambodians—to their home countries, to prevent an increase in stateless children. The Bangkok Post newspaper reported the Thai decision Wednesday.
Legally registered workers would be considered for readmission after giving birth in their nations of origin, the paper said.
Banteay Meanchey Deputy Governor Tok Saluy said Thai officials probably don’t want Cambodians born in their country.