June, 2014—Fear of prosecution and forced removal is driving tens of thousands of Cambodian migrant workers home, creating a humanitarian crisis as a flood of people cross the border with no food, water, livelihoods, or even a place to go.
The ruling military junta in Thailand, which seized power in May, has announced that undocumented Cambodian migrant workers were required to leave the country within 10 days, causing large numbers of laborers to re-enter their country at the Poipet border crossing.
Since Monday, June 9, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Cambodia office estimates that over 120,000 men, women, and children have crossed the border or been transported across by police and left on the streets of Poipet.
The numbers have been growing daily, with an estimated 61,000 people arriving just between June 11 and 13. About half of the migrants are women and children. Many have gone without food for several days.
Samaritan’s Purse has an ongoing project in Poipet focused on safe migration and trafficking awareness. We have mobilized staff in the area for an emergency response.
Seven tents have been set up to provide shelter and working space for relief operations, including medical aid provided by the Red Cross. Working with local partners, we have distributed 148,000 meals, over 27,000 bags of dry noodles, 5,100 pork bread rolls, and 252,000 water bottles. Church volunteers helped assemble 4,300 hygiene kits for the returnees, which have all be distributed. We are also handing out safe migration booklets and Gospel tracts.
Our team is working long, hot days and nights to support the returnees, sometimes staying out at the border until 1.30 a.m. to offer food, water, and other assistance.
“Praise God for all that He has done through our team!” said Patrick Seger, Samaritan’s Purse country director in Cambodia. “Just when we run out of food or water someone will come up and bring us more. It is great to see how the Cambodian community has gotten involved in helping their own people.”
The mass exodus is expected to continue for the next week, and while crossing the border may offer safety for thousands of migrants, they face another set of challenges back on their home soil. Many of their livelihoods depend on work in Thailand.
Please join us in praying for the health and safety of the returning Cambodians. They lack resources and are vulnerable to being taken advantage of by criminals in Poipet. Pray that God would provide income for thousands of these people who are desperately trying to take care of their families.
In the midst of political crisis around the world, Samaritan's Purse stands ready to meet the needs of citizens and our partners on the ground. Your gift allows us to supply basic necessities and offer emotional and spiritual support.