June 14, 2014 8:30 pm JST

Thailand repatriates over 80,000 illegal Cambodian workers

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) -- Thailand has repatriated more than 80,000 illegal Cambodian workers in less than two weeks, a Cambodian government official said Saturday.
     Koy Kuong, spokesman of Cambodia's Foreign Ministry, said Thailand routinely repatriates Cambodians working illegally in the country, but the number of Cambodians repatriated over the past few days was "overwhelming."

     On Friday alone, nearly 40,000 Cambodians were repatriated through Poi Pet, a border crossing in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey Province to Thailand's Sakaeo Province.

     Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, wrote a letter to Thailand's junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday, saying he was shocked with allegations of abuse of Cambodian workers by Thai authorities.

     Quoting a Cambodian rights group, Sam Rainsy said nine Cambodian migrants were killed by Thai soldiers.

     The letter also said Cambodians who have returned home have reported violent raids on houses of suspected illegal Cambodian migrants and incidents of tearing up documents that allow Cambodians to work legally in Thailand.

     "News of this kind is very distressing and frightening from a humanitarian point of view," Sam Rainsy said in the letter.

     The Cambodian government has sent about 300 military trucks to help transport Cambodians sent back from Thailand to their hometowns.