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122,000 Cambodians flee from Thailand, fearing crackdown

Published on Jun 16, 2014 9:38 AM
Cambodian migrant workers carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew June 15, 2014. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that over the past week 100,000 Cambodians have poured over the border, as the military that seized power in a May 22 coup intensifies lax measures to regulate illegal labour. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More than 120,000 Cambodians have fled Thailand to return home in the past week, fearing a crackdown on migrant workers after last month's military takeover, an official said.

The mass exodus of labourers - who play a key role in Thai industries such as seafood and agriculture but often lack official work permits - comes amid a junta warning of arrest and deportation for illegal foreign workers.

"They're returning en masse like a dam collapsing. They've never come en masse like this before in our history," Mr Kor Sam Saroeut, governor of the northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey where the main border crossing is, told AFP.

Around 122,000 Cambodians have returned from Thailand in the last week after being transported to the border by Thai military trucks or making their own way, he said late on Sunday.

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