Forty-two job seekers from Myanmar were apprehended after illicitly crossing the border into the Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi, Thailand on Wednesday night. Soldiers, border patrol police, and immigration officers were deployed to the area, following a tip-off regarding a group of questionable individuals in the nearby forest at Song Kalia village, according to Col Thatchadet Arbuarat, Deputy Commander of the Lat Ya task force. The officers arrived in the nick of time, as their informant advised them that the individuals had already boarded a vehicle headed towards a pier near the Vajiralongkorn dam.
The group of men and women, composed of 27 males and 15 females, was eventually located behind the pier. Cornered and with nowhere to go, they attempted to flee into the nearby woods, but all 42 members were eventually apprehended. All were confirmed to be Myanmar nationals with no proper travel documentation in their possession.
During questioning, the detainees revealed that they had originated from various regions across Myanmar, including Mandalay, Bago, and Yangon. Their journey had led them through a natural border crossing in Sangkhla Buri, en route to employment opportunities promised to them in Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phuket, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Rayong, and even Malaysia. The group relayed that they had agreed to pay job brokers fees ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 baht upon reaching their respective destinations.
Prior to being handed over to the local police at Sangkhla Buri station, the detainees underwent body temperature checks as part of a COVID-19 screening process. All results returned normal, and legal proceedings were initiated accordingly.
The situation highlights the ongoing issue of illegal border crossings from Myanmar into Thailand. Economic conditions in Myanmar have worsened significantly following the military’s takeover two years ago. In 2021 alone, it is estimated that around 80,000 illicit border crossers, the vast majority being Myanmar nationals, were apprehended. However, various groups working with migrants suggest that as many as 100,000 more successfully evaded detection, and are now employed in different parts of Thailand.