150,000 workers return from Thailand this year
About 150,000 Myanmar workers who failed to resolve their employment status in Thailand have returned home over the past five months this year, according to the Home Affairs Ministry.
MORE than 150,000 Myanmar migrants who do not have the proper documents returned home from Thailand between June 29 and November 27 after the Kingdom amended its foreign labour laws with harsh penalties, said Myanmar’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to a ministry statement on Wednesday, Myanmar illegal migrants have been returning home daily through the border gates of Myawaddy, Dawei, Tanintharyi and Kawthaung.
Government officials are providing shelter camps, food and medical treatment for the returning workers.
According to the ministry, all officials at border town are scrutinising the returning migrants to ensure they are free of drugs, not linked to terrorism, not involved in counterfeiting, not carrying weapons or explosive materials, not criminals, and that they are Myanmar citizens.
Ko Shwe Tun Aye, chair of the Migrant Workers Network in Thailand, told The Myanmar Times on Friday that many Myanmar illegal migrants are stranded in Thailand because some have not registered with the concerned agencies in the Kingdom due to lack of proper documents, while others have changed employers after they were registered by their former employers.
“Some illegal workers are stranded here till now. They are also hoping for a chance to register again or they will have to go back home,” Ko Shwe Tun Aye said.
He also added that some illegal workers are stranded because they can’t afford the brokers fees to return to Myanmar. Brokers demand between 4000 baht and 6000 baht (K250,600) to send each worker back to Myanmar.
U Aung Kyaw of the Migrant Workers Right Network (MWRN) said that workers who do not have proper employers in Thailand have been returning to Myanmar.
“Myanmar’s illegal workers can return home without being arrested. But, some workers are using brokers who are charging fees because they are afraid of being arrested, and some don’t know that they can go back home freely,” U Aung Kyaw said.
“Illegal workers can go back home until December. They don’t need to use brokers. They will be transferred to Myanmar after they are cleared by Thai authorities,” said U Moe Aung Khaing, a Thailandbased Myanmar labour attaché.
The Thai government amended its labour laws and added harsh penalties and imprisonment for both employers and illegal foreign workers on June 20, which forced Myanmar migrants without proper documents to return home.
U Myo Aung Khaing said they have issued certificates of identity to over 300,000 illegal migrants in Thailand.
A Myanmar migrant worker arrives at the temporary shelter in Myawaddy on July 6.