Reopening sees illegal entries rise

Reopening sees illegal entries rise

Lure of work sparks 3,000 arrests

More than 3,000 migrants were caught entering the country without going into quarantine first during a crackdown on illegal border crossings by the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

The reopening of the country by air to residents of several countries on Nov 1 has prompted illegal migrants to enter via the northeastern and eastern borders in search of work, Isoc spokesman Sitthichai Makkunchorn said.

This week alone, 3,160 migrants were arrested for trying to slip into the country illegally. They include 1,807 from Myanmar, 996 Cambodians, five Laotians, 11 Chinese and 24 Indians. He said the illegal crossers posed a public health risk as they were not tested for Covid-19 or subject to quarantine. Most were caught in areas bordering Myanmar and Cambodia. They were found to have paid brokers to secure passage as they were heading to Bangkok and surrounding provinces in search of employment.

A total of 91 individuals -- 28 Thais and 63 Myanmar nationals -- were nabbed in connection with smuggling in the 3,160 migrants.

In Kamphaeng Phet on Saturday, 20 illegal Myanmar migrants were rounded up in tambon Na Bor Kham in Muang district. Four had sustained injuries from a road accident, according to local police. One of the group, named only as "Si", 30, told police 23 migrants including himself hired brokers for between 7,000-23,000 baht each for the crossing, but as they were passing through Tak, their pickup veered off the road and rolled down a hill.

Three were killed and four others injured. The brokers later arranged to have those who were injured, as well as those who survived unscathed, taken away in another pickup truck.

Pol Maj Gen Pipat Chummaneekul, chief of Kamphaeng Phet police, said the injured were being treated in hospital and the rest were being tested for Covid-19. Police were working to pinpoint the location of the road accident and identify the deceased.

In Chiang Rai, the army has intercepted seven Myanmar nationals who illegally crossed into Thailand from the border town of Tachileik yesterday. Col Sutket Sriniltin, commander of the special taskforce attached to Calvary Division 3, said the seven were caught by security officers on foot patrol in Ban Pa Chang Ngam in Mae Sai district.

The migrants said they paid agents 12,000 baht each to organise the crossing and get jobs as maids in Bangkok.

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