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Many Cambodian and other migrant workers heading home for Songkran holiday

The Nation - 6 April 2015 - MIGRANT workers are heading home to Cambodia in droves as they prepare to celebrate the Khmer New Year, which occurs at the same time as the Songkran Festival.

"The number of Cambodians leaving Thailand via the Aranyaprathet immigration checkpoint is reaching about 2,000 a day now," Pol Lt-Colonel Benjapon Rodsawas, deputy immigration chief of Sa Kaew province, said yesterday.

More than 80 per cent of the Cambodian workers living in Thailand will return to their homeland during the Khmer New Year period to reunite with their loved ones.

"It's an important occasion. They see [the New Year festival] as a time for the family," he said.

The workers are taking with them nearly Bt10 million a day, which they saved all year for this special occasion.

Some Cambodian gangs prey on their cashed-up compatriots by luring them into unsupervised areas where thugs wait nearby to mug them, he added.

The chief of Cambodia's Poipet immigration office has alerted his Thai counterparts about the problem and asked for help in arresting members of such gangs on the Thai side.

Four Cambodians were arrested by the Thai military in Sa Kaew yesterday in two such cases as they were leading many Cambodian workers to unauthorised border passes.

These suspects have been handed over to Thai police for processing.

The Songkran Festival runs from April 13-15, but many workers have taken extended leave to spend more time with their families.

The Songkran period also beckons Myanmar and Laotian migrant workers back to their homeland.

"I plan to be away for a month," said an 18-year-old Myanmar waitress at a Japanese restaurant.

She said she would need a long break from work because she had not been back home for many years.

In Thailand, millions of people will hit the roads during Songkran to visit their hometowns.

Authorities in Nakhon Ratchasima conducted drills yesterday to practice assisting victims of road accidents.

"The drills are necessary to facilitate coordination and test emergency support," said Dr Likit Matrakul, director of Suranaree University of Technology Hospital.

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