Migrant children facing added risk

Migrant children facing added risk

Over 300,000 migrant workers' children in Thailand are in dire need of education and health care, children rights activist said, urging the government to take a more active part in protecting their basic rights and wellbeing.

In a seminar titled "Impact of Covid-19 on Migrant Children and Families" on Aug 19, Adisorn Kerdmonkol, a coordinator with the Migrant Working Group, said over 300,000 migrant children face a higher risk of rights violations since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.

Mr Adisorn said these children are dependents of some 97,060 migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar who were infected with Covid-19 between March last year and August this year -- 4,202 of whom are under the age of 18 themselves.

Infection rates among migrant workers are expected to increase further in the third wave of the outbreak, he said, noting over 80,000 infections have been detected among migrant workers since April this year.

Linfah Upatcha, from World Vision Foundation of Thailand, said the decision to seal off residential camps around construction sites has adversely affected the physical and mental health of the migrants' children who had to remain inside.

"Many of the children are stressed out because they aren't allowed to play with other children outside of the camp. They are confined in a 3x3 [metre] room, isolated from others during the pandemic," she said.

Dararai Raksasiripong, Smile-lay Youth Club coordinator, said many migrant children also fell victim to child abuse during the pandemic.

"Many of migrant children are suffering from domestic violence which stems from the parents' stress during the pandemic. Sometime they are neglected, beaten or left with abusive relatives, prompting some children to run away," Ms Dararai said.

Other abuses include forcing young girls into marriage with older partners and sexual harassment. Some were pressed into working at factories, which further increases the risk of the children catching the virus.

"The government must listen to those who are working with the migrant workers," she said.

"They must also review and revise relevant child protection laws to provide better security for migrant children."

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