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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Thailand: Myanmar workers forgotten victims of tsunami

from The Star:

... another group of victims - thousands of legal and illegal migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar - soon became the forgotten victims of the catastrophe.

Myanmar's repressive military government didn't send anyone to Thailand to help the survivors from its country, and Thailand's government didn't offer them any money.

Many illegal migrant workers from Myanmar soon went into hiding in hard-hit areas to avoid being caught by police, according to activists and relief agencies.

Others lost their low-paying jobs at construction sites, on fishing boats or at rubber plantations when the businesses they worked for were destroyed by the tsunami.

And many legal migrant workers who had survived the killer wave lost the Thai government registration cards required to work in Thailand when they lost everything during the Dec. 26 disaster, which killed more than 5,300 people and left more than 3,100 missing and presumed dead.

Some officials believe that as many as 1,000 people from Myanmar may have died in the tsunami, but the large number of undocumented migrants means the exact number may never be known.

Also, many migrants refused to go to official mortuaries to identify their colleagues, fearing that police would arrest them for not having their government registration cards, aid workers said.

read full story ...


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