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Cambodian exodus from Thailand jumps to nearly 180,000

Published on Jun 17, 2014 12:05 PM
Cambodian migrant workers stand in military trucks as are transported back to their home provinces after crossing the border, in the city of Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border, in the north-eastern Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey on June 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

POIPET, Cambodia (AFP) - The number of Cambodians fleeing Thailand over fears of a clampdown on illegal migrant workers rose to nearly 180,000 on Tuesday, as the two countries were expected to hold talks on the crisis in Bangkok.

The mass exodus of labourers - who help keep major Thai industries such as agriculture afloat - comes after a warning from Thailand's new military regime that illegal foreign workers face arrest and deportation.

"The number of Cambodians returning from Thailand into Poipet (the main Thai-Cambodian border crossing) in just over a week reached 157,000 by this morning," said Mr Kor Sam Saroeut, governor of north-western Banteay Meanchey province where the checkpoint is based.

Around 20,000 others have crossed the border at O'Smach, a checkpoint some 250 kilometres north-east from Poipet, according to the governor and a senior Cambodian police official.

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