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Cambodia worker exodus hits 220,000, Phnom Penh blames Thailand

Published on Jun 18, 2014 8:15 PM
 
Cambodian migrant workers who recently crossed the border sit in the back of a military truck waiting to be transported back to their home provinces after arriving in the city of Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border, in the north-eastern Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey on June 18, 2014. The number of Cambodian labourers fleeing Thailand soared to 220,000 on Wednesday, authorities said, as Phnom Penh accused Thailand's new military rulers of sparking the flight of migrant workers. -- PHOTO: AFP

POIPET, Cambodia (AFP) - The number of Cambodian labourers fleeing Thailand soared to 220,000 on Wednesday, authorities said, as Phnom Penh accused Thailand's new military rulers of sparking the flight of migrant workers.

Panicking Cambodians - who help keep major Thai industries afloat but often lack official work permits - have streamed across the border since the junta warned last week that illegal foreign workers face arrest and deportation.

At a meeting in Bangkok Tuesday, Cambodia's ambassador and a top Thailand foreign ministry official agreed to end "rumours" of a crackdown and set up a hotline on labour issues.

But Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng later placed blame for the crisis squarely at Bangkok's door, claiming the junta had caused at least eight deaths and economic hardship for both countries.

 
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