Migration Program

The combination of landlessness, poverty wages, unsafe working conditions and an influx of an estimated 250,000 new workers into the job market annually has seen more than one million of Cambodia’s poorest and most vulnerable workers migrate in search of employment over the last decade. Of our organization’s more than 2,000 migrant worker clients, all expected to earn at least three times their wage in Cambodia. The primary country of destination for Cambodian migrant workers is Thailand for work in agribusiness, construction, manufacturing, processing and fishing. This is often facilitated by the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA). ACRA is a Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MoLVT) initiative that requires registration with the association in exchange for license to send Cambodian workers abroad. The US Department of State recognizes that ‘some workers do not understand their obligations or cannot read the contracts provided by ACRA members, which note $800 to $1,200 in placement and processing fees deducted from the worker’s expected wages in destination countries, amounting to four months’ to one year’s wages. Other workers agree to the terms because, even with the risk and required salary deductions, they see no other viable opportunities to pull themselves out of poverty.’ Offences suffered by Cambodian recruits range in severity and included non-payment of wages, forced labor, bonded labor or debt bondage, illegal confinement, physical, mental and sexual abuse, rape, torture and death.

In addition, the IOM estimates that anywhere from 50 to 90% of Cambodians in Thailand are undocumented. These migrants are considered even more vulnerable without legal protections, facing arrest as well as exploitation.

CENTRAL provides holistic legal aid to victims of labor and human trafficking and organizes Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand through its association, Cambodian Friendship Migrant Workers in Thailand (CFAT).

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