Cambodian migrants fleeing Thailand rise to 220,000: Cambodian official

Cambodian migrants fleeing Thailand rise to 220,000: Cambodian official

PHNOM PENH, June 18 (Xinhua) -- The number of Cambodian migrant workers, who have been deported from or fled Thailand over fears of a junta-led clampdown on illegal foreign workers, rose to 220, 000 on Wednesday.

Major Gen. Pich Vanna, chief of Cambodia-Thailand Border Relation Affairs Office,told Xinhua via telephone, "The consolidated figures collected from all seven Cambodia-Thailand border checkpoints showed that some 220,000 Cambodian workers have been repatriated from Thailand."

He said, on Wednesday alone, around 15,000 Cambodian migrants were expelled from Thailand and many more are coming.

Pich Vanna estimated that nearly 400,000 Cambodian workers had been working in Thailand before the clampdown.

The number of Cambodian migrant workers leaving Thailand soared after the Thai military junta warned last week that illegal foreign workers could face arrest and deportation.

Speaking during a visit to Cambodian migrant workers at Poipet International Border Checkpoint on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan said the government has already spent about five million U.S. dollars to cover transportation, food, and medical care for the returnees.

"The expense is not included the direct donations from charitable organizations and generous individuals to those migrant workers," he said, adding that more than 300 military trucks and buses have been used to transport those returnees from the border to their home provinces "free of charge".

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Tuesday slammed the Thai junta for deporting Cambodian migrant workers in a hurry without any prior notice or discussion with Cambodia.

Despite the mass exodus of Cambodian migrant workers, Thailand denied that it had a policy to crack down or deport Cambodian migrant workers.