Myanmar Migrant Workers Risk Fines And Jail to Get Home Amid COVID-19 Exodus

Sandra Loyd

Thai cops apprehended and later on launched 300 migrant workers as they headed to the border to return home to Myanmar on Thursday amid the spread of the extremely infectious coronavirus, part of an exodus covering throughout Southeast Asia as factories in Thailand that depend on foreign labor shut down, a labor activist, an embassy official, a labor activist, and a legislator stated.

The workers, taking a trip in a caravan of 16 buses, were attempting to return to Myanmar after Thai authorities released an order prohibiting groups from taking a trip to avoid the spread of the infection, likewise referred to as COVID-19 They were launched at night.

“The do-not-travel order had already been issued in Tak province,” stated Wai Lin Maung, a labor official at the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand, referring to the province in lower northern Thailand that borders Myanmar’s Kayin and Mon states.

“We posted a notice about this travel ban on Facebook,” he stated. “Buses traveling to the Myanmar border are now being detained. There are about four checkpoints along the way.  Soldiers and police are checking at these points.”

After Thai authorities launched the 300 workers, they were permitted to continue their travel on to Myanmar, stated Ye Minutes, a senior member of the Help Alliance Committee.

Thai authorities likewise stated they would not launch any other groups migrant workers taking a trip home if they are captured at the monitoring points, he stated.

“More than 300 workers who were arrested while traveling in 16 buses have arrived in Myanmar via the Myawaddy Bridge-2,” Ye Minutes informed RFA’s Myanmar Service, referring to the Myanmar- Thai Relationship Bridge-2 over the Thangyin River, which links the city of Mae Sot in Tak province with the city of Myawaddy in Kayin state.

“Some of them didn’t know about the travel ban, and others returned home even though they knew about it,” headded “Thai authorities said they are going to take action against anybody who travels in the region after today. These workers were released because Mae Sot authorities helped them.”

Thant Zin Aung, a Kayin state legislator who represents the Myawaddy town constituency, alerted other Myanmar migrant workers to stay where they are.

“These workers need to follow Thailand’s order,” he informed RFA. “If they do not, they can be charged a 100,000- baht [U.S. $3,027] fine and get one year jail, or both.”

“I want them to follow the rules and orders,” headded “I don’t want them to get in trouble when they return home.”

Thant Sin Aung stated the 300 workers were the only workers to reenter Myanmar through the bridge’s border crossing on April 2, showing that less of the approximately 3 million Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand now are returning home amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Under quarantine

Myanmar nationals consist of the biggest migrant employee population in Thailand, with current quotes putting the figure at 2.3 million people, according to an August 2019 report on Myanmar migrants in Thailand released by the International Organization for Migration.

Countless migrant workers from Myanmar currently have actually returned home China and Thailand, with one returnee in Yangon screening favorable for COVID-19 on Monday, triggering the Ministry of Health and Sports to alert of the possibility of a significant break out.

Numerous workers who have actually returned are stopping working to observe the Myanmar federal government’s order to remain in quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

The majority of the migrant workers are from Kayin and Mon state and Bago and Yangon areas, labor activists stated.

All of them, despite where they reside in Myanmar, have actually been sent out to Kayin and Mon states, though it is not understood where they were being quarantined, they stated. The workers have actually been asked to sign an affidavit stating that they will follow the quarantine treatments.

Since Thursday, Myanmar reported 20 validated cases of COVID-19 with one death, while Thailand reported 1,875 cases with 15 deaths.

Reported by Kyaw Lwin Oo for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Equated by Khet Mar. Composed in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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