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More aid sent to border provinces

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Migrant workers receive aid at a quarantine centre in Banteay Meanchey province’s Serei Sophoan town. Banteay Meanchey Administration

More aid sent to border provinces

Prime Minister Hun Sen approved the provision of more supplies and food assistance to the seven provinces bordering Thailand to meet the daily consumption needs of returning migrant workers.

Meanwhile, authorities in the border provinces are continuing to bring workers in good health to quarantine in their respective hometown rather than at centres established along the border due to crowding concerns.

The inventory of items to be provided includes mosquito nets, blankets, pillows, bedding, sarongs and scarves, 56,100 personal hygiene kits, 68,000 cases of drinking water and 29,200 cases of instant noodles.

These supplies had been requested by authorities in the border provinces where returning migrant workers must undergo 14-day quarantine in designated centres.

Ministry of Health secretary of state York Sambath told local media that financial assistance for the border provinces was also included to be used for maintaining quarantine centres and for transporting workers back to their home provinces after they complete quarantine.

Hun Sen recently told the military to transport workers who appear to be in good health to their hometowns to undergo quarantine there. He said the decision was made in order to ease the pressure on the quarantine centres in the border provinces.

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey told The Post that as of March 7 his province had more than 5,600 returning workers under quarantine and that more than 10,000 had already completed quarantine there.

“We received nearly 6 billion riel [around $1.5 million] for the support of our returning migrant workers,” he said.

His province also received about 20,000 cases of instant noodles and more than 20,000 cases of water and canned fish.

On March 8, around 1,000 people had arrived at their homes and continued with their quarantines there, he said.

Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak told The Post on March 8 the government aid is essential for poor migrant workers as many of them are returning home in need of financial and food assistance.

“After we received the new orders, the number of those who will go to our quarantine centres will change, because we will take some of them out of the centres and send them to their hometown,” he said.

Dy Thehoya, Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights Migrant Workers Protection Programme Officer, said the measures taken to deal with returning migrant workers were generally good.

However, he urged the government to make planning for this process more transparent and to set it down in a national policy, not just deal with the situation using ad hoc solutions

He said if these measures were included in a national policy, he would look to see some independent monitoring of the migrant return process and permanent quarantine centres and accommodations should be prepared to avoid irregularities.

“Sometimes issues are addressed just for a short time and then afterwards ignored. I see that quarantine facilities along the borders are different from those in Phnom Penh. Along the borders, quarantine takes place in schools and people have faced food shortages,” he said.

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