This project investigates the impacts of Covid-19 on Cambodian cross-border migrants and explores links between these shifting patterns of migration and the prevalence and type of child labour within this vulnerable population.
Cambodian migrant workers, forced into Thailand by the high levels of poverty and lack of jobs in rural Cambodia have faced poor working conditions and exploitation along migration channels for decades. Conditions for migrant workers, both in Thailand and at home in Cambodia, have been degrading consistently since the onset of the pandemic. Government restrictions in Thailand saw the rate of return migration to Cambodia increasing but the prolonged nature of the Covid-19 crisis in SE Asia, and still very challenging conditions in rural Cambodia, is now forcing many to attempt the perilous journey back to Thailand in spite of the risk of Covid infection. There is some anecdotal evidence emerging around an increase in numbers of children migrating and entering the workforce but there is little understanding of the dynamics of the nexus of Covid-19, precarious migration and longer-term impacts on increasing prevalence of child labour.