Mon 28 Feb 2005
Filed under: News,Regional
Thai authorities have reissued work permits to some 130 Burmese migrant workers who survived the tsunami which hit southwestern Thailand. The workers comprise only a fraction of an unofficially estimated 31,000 registered Burmese workers-mainly fishermen-said to have been in southern Phang Nga Province before the December 26 tsunami.
Hundreds died when the tidal wave struck. Many survivors were subsequently sent back to Burma by the Thais for not having permits, while others returned voluntarily fearing arrest, according to aid workers.
An official from the Tsunami Action Group, or TAG, who withheld his full name, said more than a thousand Burmese workers were waiting for new permits, after losing them in the tsunami. Non-government and other community-based organizations, working with the United Nations, grouped to form TAG to help Burmese workers immediately after the tsunami.
Main area of operations for TAG is Takuapa District of Phang Nga, worst hit by the tsunami. It helps the workers obtain their work permits, and provides transport and food.
There is no official total for the number of migrant workers who died in the tsunami, but another NGO, the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, reported on January 8 that between 700-1,000 workers died in the whole of southern Thailand, and that 156 bodies had been identified.
Htoo Chit, a TAG official, said TAG’s work permit-reissuing efforts have become easier since the Thai Labor Ministry is now cooperating with it.