Lao Migrants Returning from Thailand Stuck in Overflowing Quarantine Camps

Thousands of Lao migrant workers who recently returned from Thailand after losing their jobs to COVID-19 have been facing fresh hardships in crowded, undersupplied quarantine camps,, Lao officials and migrants told RFA.

During the coronavirus pandemic hundreds of thousands of the 2.8 million foreign workers in Thailand returned to their home countries after losing their jobs when their employers closed businesses, according to NGOs. But about 1 million were stranded in Thailand and only slowly made it out in the face of travel restrictions.

In late June, RFA reported that as many as 3,000 Lao workers returned home over the previous two months, crossing the border from Thailand after becoming suddenly unemployed as businesses shut down in response to the pandemic. Some took months to get home.

Returning migrants, many penniless, have to pay for their own food and are sent to crowded camps with no cooking facilities, toilets, or enough sleeping areas.

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RFA’s Lao service. Translated by Sidney Khotpanya. Written in English by Eugene Whong.