20 October 2023
Mekong Migration Network Statement:
Assisting Migrants from ASEAN Member States in Israel and Gaza
The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is saddened to learn that migrant workers from Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines are confirmed to be among those killed, injured or abducted in the violence that has engulfed Israel and the Palestinian Territory of Gaza in recent days. Many thousands of citizens from Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) remain in dangerous situations across the conflict zone. The Thai Labour Minister has confirmed that 5,000 Thai migrant workers are currently employed in the “fighting zone”, while hundreds of citizens of ASEAN Member States remain in Gaza, which at the time of writing is under blockade and bombardment.
As a network of civil society organisations who work together to promote and protect the rights of migrants, we call on ASEAN to use its combined diplomatic capabilities to push for the release of the 18 Thai migrant workers known to be held hostage, and for the creation of humanitarian corridors to provide assistance and evacuate civilians trapped in Gaza. In doing so, we urge Member States to work proactively in extending assistance to migrants of other ASEAN Member States caught up in the crisis and fully utilise the co-operation frameworks agreed in the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Family Members in Crisis Situations,  and the ASEAN Guidelines for the Provision of Emergency Assistance by ASEAN Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of ASEAN Member Countries in Crisis Situations.
The current conflict highlights the particular vulnerabilities migrants face in times of crisis. In negotiating security threats, migrants can be hampered by the fact that they do not speak the local language well, nor fully understand the socio-political forces at play. They may also be subject to deliberate attacks or be targeted if their employers are party to the conflict. MMN calls on ASEAN to do its utmost to ensure that the safety and security of migrants from its Member States are not overlooked amidst the wider crisis and that moving forward there is increased preparedness for assisting migrants in crisis situations.
ABOUT THE MEKONG MIGRATION NETWORK
Founded in 2003, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is a sub-regional network of civil society organisations and research institutes working towards the protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and their families in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. MMN’s areas of joint action include collaborative research, advocacy, capacity building and networking. MMN members operate in both countries of origin and destination, have unique expertise in the field, and are in close contact with migrant workers at a grassroots level. For more information on MMN, please visit MMN’s webpage at: www.mekongmigration.org
For more information about the statement, please contact:
Ms. Reiko Harima, MMN Regional Coordinator (English and Japanese) at: email@example.com
Ms. Artid Pabun, MMN Advocacy and Research Officer (Thai and English) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Heather Chen & Kocha Olarn, “Thai Deaths in Hamas Massacre Spotlight Poor Agricultural Workers from Asia who Toil in Israel’s Fields”, CNN, 13 October 2023, accessible at https://edition.cnn.com/2023/10/13/asia/thailand-migrant-workers-israel-gaza-conflict-intl-hnk/index.html.
 Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat & Ramon Royandoyan, “Thailand and Philippines Scramble to Safeguard Citizens in Israel”, Nikkei Asia, 10 October 2023, accessible at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Israel-Hamas-war/Thailand-and-Philippines-scramble-to-safeguard-citizens-in-Israel.
 “Another Thai killed in Israel, Another Taken Hostage: PM”, Bangkok Post,
 See, ASEAN Declaration on Protection of Migrant Workers and Family Members in Crisis Situations, adopted on 10 May 2023, accessible at https://asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/09-ASEAN-Declaration-on-Protection-of-Migrant-Workers-and-Family-Members-in-Crisis-Situations_adopted.pdf
 See ASEAN Guidelines for the Provision of Emergency Assistance by ASEAN Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of ASEAN Member Countries in Crisis Situations, accessible at https://asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Guidelines-for-the-Provision-of-Emergency-Assistance-in-Crisis.pdf