Challenges of Cambodian Migrant Workers During the Covid-19 Outbreak


Challenges of Cambodian Migrant Workers During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2021 – Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) has released a report titled “Challenges of Cambodian Migrant Workers During the Covid-19 Outbreak”.

This report aims to reflect some of the hardships faced by Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand and those who have returned home through border crossings during the severe COVID-19 outbreak following the introduction of many restrictive measures by both Cambodian and Thai authorities to curb the spread of the virus. Researchers compiled information obtained from Cambodian migrant workers currently working in Thailand, interviewed returned migrant workers and conducted field observations at the border to understand the problems faced by these vulnerable groups.

Migrant workers, who have not yet received full attention, have experienced misery during the crisis. Nearly two million Cambodian migrant workers are living and working in Thailand; thousands of whom are facing hardships such as job loss, income insecurity, high risk of contracting COVID-19 and a lack of access to social protection and other health services. For migrant workers who tested positive, they have not received proper treatment, while some were not promptly admitted to hospital. The report also shows that migrant workers employed in the construction sector, and especially those who are undocumented, face even more difficulties due to employment suspension and restrictions on leaving their workplace.

The Cambodian government, through the Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Thailand, has provided immediate response and assistance to some migrant workers, however, due to the negative impact resulting from the outbreak, such responses have not yet been enough to ease the burden of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers who are still struggling to make ends meet.

Many Cambodian migrant workers have no other choice but to return to Cambodia, despite high costs of travel for return, deception by brokers and the risk of infection. In addition, the mechanisms for receiving migrant workers at the border, in particular, transportation and quarantine centers are still limited, which have been unable to fully respond to the increasing number of returnees.

Some of the most common issues that retuned migrant workers encounter during their stay in state-quarantine centers include overcrowding, an inability to comply with SOP, inadequate toilets and handwashing facilities, as well as limited numbers of shared bathrooms between men and women. Such problems impose additional burdens for women and children.

“In this report, we have mentioned some of the challenges that Cambodian migrant workers are facing, but we believe that there are still many other issues that they are facing in the countries where they are working and staying, especially in Thailand at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Tola Moeun, Executive Director of CENTRAL. “We hope that this report will make a contribution to policy makers in designing policy and responding to such issues faced by Cambodian migrant workers in a timely and appropriate manner.”

Migrant workers should not be left behind, especially during this time. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a time when we need to rethink about ensuring and respecting the rights and dignity of these vulnerable populations, who have always played a vital role in helping the economy, both for their home country and destination country.

We urge the government to expand their response in the most comprehensive and effective way to help Cambodian migrant workers who are experiencing these hardships. Notably, it is crucial to also include migrant workers in the priority list for any COVID-19 emergency response plan or reintegration plan, like other vulnerable groups.


For more information, contact:

Mr. Dy Thehoya, Head of Anti-Human Trafficking and Migration Unit, Tel: +855 93 55 66 31

Miss Try Sophea, Project Officer, Tel: +855 93 55 66 17


Download Full Report (English): Challenges of Cambodian Migrant Workers During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Download Full Report (Khmer): បញ្ហាប្រឈមរបស់ពលករកម្ពុជាក្នុងអំឡុងពេលនៃការផ្ទុះមេរោគកូវីដ-១៩

This post is also available in: Khmer

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