PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian workers are leaving Thailand in growing numbers, with the total who have returned to their homeland this month topping 160,000.
Thai officials insist the cross-border movement is voluntary and not forced repatriation. Thailand announced it would crack down on undocumented foreign workers after the army took power in a May 22 coup.
Cambodian rights groups say Thai authorities are coercing the Cambodians to go home and abusing them. There are estimated to be well upward of 200,000 Cambodians working in Thailand, most illegally. Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said more than 160,000 have returned home through several border checkpoints since June 1.