Over 700 Cambodian migrant workers are currently returning to the Kingdom from Thailand on average each day in advance of the traditional Khmer New Year holiday after the government approved the resumption its celebration this year with Covid-19 infection rates on the decline.
Most of the migrant workers are returning via the official international border checkpoints in three provinces – Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Battambang.
Banteay Meanchey provincial spokesman Sek Sokhom told The Post that this year around 300 workers per day have been arriving since early March.
“The workers have started to return home to reunite with their families for the occasion of the traditional Khmer New Year. Between 270 and to over 300 per day – because we have all missed having the celebrations for the past two years,” he said.
Sokhom said that he hopes that in early April the number of workers returning will continue to increase as the government has opened both land and waterway crossings without testing those who are vaccinated for Covid-19.
He noted that any vaccinated worker is allowed to travel directly to their home village, but those who aren’t vaccinated need to undergo a health checkup and do a 14-day quarantine.
He added that unlike last year the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces won’t be transporting them away from the border to their home provinces in military vehicles. Returning workers must find their own transportation to their respective destinations.
“The responsibility of the provincial authorities is to provide meals for the workers who are in quarantine or undergoing treatment for Covid-19 until they can be allowed to return home,” he said.
He said that in the last 10 days more than 2,000 workers have returned and in April he expects that as many as 300 to 400 workers may return home each day through his province’s checkpoint.
According to Sokhom, just two or three out of the 300 workers returning daily have tested positive for Covid-19 and most of the workers are vaccinated.
Battambang provincial hall spokesman Sous Sopheak said that about 30 to 40 workers were returning from Thailand per day on average at their checkpoint, but on some days they’d had more than 100 workers.
Over in Oddar Meanchey province more than 4,000 workers have returned home in the last 10 days – with an average of 400 per day – according to a report issued by the provincial border authorities there.
Oddar Meanchey provincial administration spokesman Phal Lim told The Post that most of the workers had returned home in anticipation of the upcoming Khmer New Year along with some illegal workers who were deported by the Thai authorities as well.
On March 28, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for a thorough screening of workers traveling home from Thailand and reiterated the policy that those who have not been vaccinated must undergo 14-days quarantine.
The prime minister said that said that at present there are over 1,000 Cambodian workers in quarantine centres near the Thailand-Cambodia border.