04/22/2020, 16.06
THAILAND
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Long lines of unemployed queuing for food

At least 27 million workers lost their job as a result of the pandemic. The government has promised 5,000 baht to Thais, but not foreign migrants. Many survive thanks to charities.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The sight of long lines of unemployed getting free food provided by Buddhist or Christian charities has become commonplace since the COVID-19 pandemic badly impacted the capacity of informal workers to make a living.

At least 27 million of them have lost their job in tourism, entertainment, food and service sectors.

With air travel at a standstill and tens of millions of tourists no longer coming because of the coronavirus, the economy has turned into a desert as jobs and wages vanished.

Given the situation, the mass of the unemployed have turned to the government for help.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised a monthly subsidy of 5,000 baht (about US$ 153), but so far only half of the 27 million have received something. It is unclear how long the government can provide this assistance.

The situation is even more worrying for foreign migrants since government assistance is limited to Thai workers.

Whilst waiting for the government to provide aid, the unemployed are queuing up at charities for rice, noodles, milk and curry packets.

It is estimated that the Thai economy will experience its worst contraction (6.5 per cent) since the Asian financial crisis of 1998.

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