IOM and partners distribute survival kits to migrant workers hit hard by lockdown
BANGKOK – International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with NGO and academia partners are distributing survival and dignity kits to migrant workers and their families who were affected by the recent lockdown of businesses in six provinces in Thailand.
Following the government's semi-lockdown imposed on 28 June, all construction sites and workers’ camps in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces have been closed and locked down for at least 60 days, along with high-risk areas, such as specific public markets and sub-districts.
A recent IOM needs assessment of 15 construction camps in Bangkok Metropolitan Area estimated that 92% of all workers in the assessed camps have been out of work since the lockdown. The temporary disruption and unexpected job loss poses a financial burden on the migrant communities, exacerbating concerns over meeting their basic needs.
Win Naing, or Pao, is a construction worker in Bangkok. He is among thousands of migrant workers who are struggling due to the lockdown. “Since the construction sites were closed, I didn’t receive any income. I was without work for 45 days. It was devastating. I had to take out loans to cover food and living costs, so did my friends,” said Pao.
With limited capacity to cope and adapt, little or no savings, and inadequate access to social services, thousands of individuals find themselves facing renewed hardship as a result of both lockdown measures and possible health risks.
“While the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and limited access to basic social services have taken a toll on the livelihoods of all, migrant workers remain among the most heavily impacted community. IOM is working with partners to provide food and hygiene assistance to migrant workers and their families to ensure their immediate health and safety needs are met,” said Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand.
IOM has delivered 2,050 survival kits, including food, hygiene items and medical supplies, to 18 locations across five provinces. 527 kits were distributed to six construction camps in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces. Another 1,523 kits were delivered to construction camps and migrant communities in Bangkok, Samut Prakarn, Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya provinces, in partnership with the World Vision Foundation of Thailand and Mahidol University.
In addition, IOM in partnership with the World Vision Foundation of Thailand distributed dignity kits comprising essential sanitary and hygiene products to 930 women migrant workers and their families who were affected by the closing down of the garment factories and lockdowns of communities in Mae Sot, Tak province.
The measures in Bangkok and 28 other provinces were eased from 1 September, allowing more domestic travel, and malls and restaurants to reopen. The extended curfew, however, still has a significant effect on migrant workers.
Thann Naung, or Tar, a Myanmar national and head of a construction workers’ site in Bangkok, knows better than anyone the adverse effects of the curfew measure. “We’re back to work now after two months of lockdown. But the workers are earning less than their pre-lockdown income. Currently, they make around 300 baht a day,” Tar said. As construction sites must close before 8 pm, this means no night shift and limited overtime. “They used to get overtime pay for two or three hours a day, which accounted for 120-180 baht. Including daily wage, they made 500-600 baht a day. Now, some of them have got no money to send home,” he added.
The effects of curfew on migrant workers’ income could be substantial. As part of its ongoing COVID-19 response, IOM is aiming to supply a further 5,200 survival kits to NGO partners, Homenet Thailand and Human Rights and Development Foundation, Mahidol University, the Provincial Authorities of Samut Sakhon and Ratchaburi Provinces for distribution to migrant workers in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok and surrounding provinces.
These survival and dignity kits are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and Laudes Foundation.