Cambodians Back from Thailand as Khmer New Year Celebrations Return

1 min read
Poipet border checkpoint. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

After two years of difficulties crossing borders, Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand are flocking back to the country for Khmer New Year.

Dy Rado, Oddar Meanchey deputy governor, said border crossings at the O’Smach checkpoint were up to around 1,000 people a day.

“There are workers coming from Thailand who are visiting their families for the first time in years. We haven’t celebrated for the past two years,” Rado said.

Border restrictions emerged amid Covid-19, but testing requirements have now been removed for entries into Cambodia.

Nevertheless, Rado said officials continued to take precautions.

“We are happy to see them, but we still follow health rules, and these rules will still help to protect us from Covid during the Khmer New Year.”

Even when there was a rush for people to return before and after the Thai border was closed in July and August last year, Oddar Meanchey authorities reported daily arrivals of only around 300 to 600 people.

In Battambang, deputy governor Soeung Bunrithy said arrival numbers had risen in the past few days from less than 100 per day to about 500. Numbers increased after local Thai officials across the border issued a notice to ease visits home by Cambodian workers, Bunrithy added.

Poipet border control official Ty Chamroeun, in Banteay Meanchey province, said: “We’ve seen workers continue to come through the international border to enjoy their holiday. Their faces look happy.”

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