Thailand and Myanmar agree to the return of 700 victims of human trafficking

Repatriation will take place over the course of a year in two or three batches. In Thailand, the victims of trafficking are mainly exploited workers, beggars or sex slaves. Thailand will also send irregular migrants back to Myanmar.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Government of Thailand will send back to Myanmar some 700 victims of human trafficking who have been held in rehabilitation shelters after an identification process, Myanmar and Thai government officials said last Thursday.

The officials announced the plan at a press conference at the end of the 23rd Myanmar-Thailand Case Management Meeting on the Return and Reintegration of Victims of Trafficking held at a hotel in Yangon.

“We will transfer them in two or three batches over the course of a year,” said Sunee Srisangatrakullert, director of Thailand’s Division of Anti-Trafficking in Persons. 

Sunee said people trafficked to Thailand usually fall into three categories – forced labour, those forced to beg, and women forced into prostitution – and the number of victims from Myanmar has been higher than those from Laos or Cambodia over the past two years. 

Thailand will also return illegal workers from Myanmar caught on their way to Malaysia without proper papers. Under an agreement between the two countries, the illegal workers will be sent home without having to spend time in jail. 

Myanmar and Thailand hold meetings once every six months to address the transfer of trafficking victims.

Up to 20,000 Myanmar workers enter Thailand legally every month for work under an agreement between the two countries. However, an unknown number enter or pass through the country illegally.

According to United Nations sources, there are about 4.9 million migrant workers in Thailand today, making up over 10 per cent of the workforce. Most of them come from poor nations in Southeast Asia.