Cambodian Migrant Workers Are Prohibited from Returning to their Jobs Abroad

PHNOM PENH—The Ministry of Interior Wednesday (April 22)  said that the 85,000 or so Cambodian migrant workers who have returned to Cambodia due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic must not attempt to go back to the countries where they used to work.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said that the ministry is prohibiting these Cambodian workers to go back to these countries, and this, for their own safety.

During a meeting on key solutions to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in the context of social security and look at ways to maintain stability in the short, medium, and long term, Kheng said that most of these workers who had to leave their jobs due to the pandemic at this point can only provide for their families in the short term.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), urged the government to help these workers during the pandemic through the national budget.

“The government should have some measures, such as providing them with some capital to make sure they have food to eat [and prices don’t go up] while we fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said

Some neighboring countries have put programs in place such as the Thai government that is enabling people to have free electricity and clean water for three months, Tola said.

Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior said that those workers’ families should grow more vegetables at their homes to earn some income and should be patient at this stage as all Cambodians have to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Regarding these workers who recently returned to the country, Bun Eng said that none has been identified as having contracted COVID-19. “The data from the Ministry of Health noted that more than 400 workers were suspected…but so far, the results have shown that no one was carrying COVID-19,” she said.

The Cambodian government has set up four working groups to address key challenges during the pandemic: the strategic cost management working group, the food security working group, the policy and budget assistance working group, and a multidisciplinary technical working group to address the effects of COVID-19.


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