MMN Country Visits to Thailand, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar & Japan

MMN Country Visits to Thailand, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar & Japan

“Beyond ‘Tolerance’: Working hand-in-hand to promote the social inclusion of migrants and their families”

March – July 2016

One of the Mekong Migration Network’s cross-border research and advocacy projects is titled: “Beyond ‘Tolerance’: Working hand-in-hand to promote the social inclusion of migrants and their families.” Financially supported by the Toyota Foundation, “Beyond ‘Tolerance’” strives to better understand and promote the social inclusion of migrants and their families while addressing causes of social exclusion. These themes are being explored in the context of origin countries Cambodia and Burma/Myanmar and destination countries Thailand and Japan.

Coordinated by the MMN Regional Coordinator, Ms. Reiko Harima, the core project partners include: Ms. Thet Thet Aung from 88 Generation Peace and Open Society from Burma/Myanmar, Mr. Brahm Press from the MAP Foundation from Thailand, Mr. Sokchar Mom from the Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Mr. Sopheap Suong from the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) from Cambodia, and Ms. Yuriko Saito from Meiji Gakuin University in Japan.

Over the span of four months, MMN project partners participated in country visits to collect information in order to better understand the situations migrants and their families face in both countries of origin and destination. The visits commenced on 21 March in Rayong Province, Thailand. Over the course of two days, hosted by the Foundation for AIDS Rights (FAR), the “Beyond ‘Tolerance’” team visited sites where Cambodian migrants live and work. These sites included Ban Phe Sub-district, where small crews of migrant workers mended fishing nets, and Sala Kieow community, where workers prepared dried fish for delivery. Participants also had the opportunity of visiting a Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN)-run school for migrant children and an FAR mobile clinic, which provides migrant workers with condoms, HIV testing, and information.

Following the visit to Rayong, project partners ventured northwest to Mae Sot District in Thailand’s Tak Province. From 24 to 25 March, the “Beyond ‘Tolerance’” team visited MAP Foundation’s Mae Sot office, the Mae Tao Clinic, a Burmese-Karen village, and a worksite for migrants employed in the agricultural industry. Participants also had the opportunity to engage with representatives from the Foundation for Education and Development (FED), Arakan Labour Campaign (ALC), and Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association (YCOWA).

From 22 to 27 May, the “Beyond ‘Tolerance’” team embarked on their second visit to Cambodia. Throughout the week, participants conducted interviews and site visits across Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Banteay Meanchey Province. The team visited the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA), the Phnom Penh and Sanco Special Economic Zones, the Poipet International Border Checkpoint, and CSOs, including Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) and Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC). Project partners also met with a villagers’ self-help group organized by GVC and spoke with the families of migrant workers and migrant returnees who had previously worked in Thailand.

Equipped with knowledge from previous visits to Thailand and Cambodia, the “Beyond ‘Tolerance’” team visited Yangon and Bago Region to expand their understanding of issues of social inclusion and exclusion for migrants and their families in the context of Burma/Myanmar. From 19 to 24 June, the team participated in a public discussion on labour migration hosted by the ILO, met with management committees from South Dagon Industrial Zone and Thilawa Special Economic Zone, and spoke with migrant returnees and family members of migrant workers in Bago Region. Participants also had the opportunity of exchanging information with CSOs and labour rights organizations, and visiting the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF), a Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), and pre-departure training.

Lastly, the team travelled beyond the boundaries of the Mekong Subregion for the project’s final country visit to Japan. From 22 to 26 July, project partners participated in a symposium hosted by MMN in collaboration with the Faculty of International Studies at Meiji Gakuin University. Participants also met with representatives of Kanagawa International Foundation (KANAFAN), exchanged information with CSOs providing assistance to migrant workers in Kanagawa and Kyoto prefecture, visited a factory recruiting Myanmar migrants under the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP), and spoke with Myanmar migrant trainees in Komatsu City.

“Beyond ‘Tolerance’” project partners used the information they gained throughout the country visits, along with additional interviews and desk research, to write an advocacy paper and create a multimedia presentation promoting the social inclusion of migrants, which were presented at photo exhibitions in Yangon, Phnom Penh, and Bangkok throughout October 2016.

MMN Country Visit Reports:

Thailand Country Visit Report [9 MB]

Cambodia Country Visit Report [3 MB]

Burma/Myanmar Country Visit Report [2.5 MB]

Japan Country Visit Report [6 MB]