Authorities in Vientiane
acknowledge that illegal Lao labor in Thailand is becoming an issue of
increasing concern. The number of these workers in Thailand, according to Thai
authorities, is approximately 300,000,
as opposed to Lao authorities’ estimate of only 200,000. Nonetheless, this situation has resulted in an increase in the number of Lao youths, especially young women, being forced
into prostitution and at risk of falling into the trap of transnational human
As admitted by Major Khamkeo Manola, Deputy
Director of the Transnational Human
Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Interior, the number of victimized
Lao youths from 2001 to 2008, totaled more than 2,000; the majority of them
were women. And just last year alone, Thai
authorities sent over 28,000 illegal workers back to Laos via the Vangtau-Chongmek
border checkpoint in Champassack province.
The fact that the Lao government is unable to create
enough jobs for its workforce will certainly contribute to the
increase of the number of Lao youths, between the age of 14 and 49 years old, sneaking
into Thailand to seek jobs and work illegally there. Lao officials have planned to create and find at least 100,000
jobs for its workforce during the fiscal year 2008-09; of which 25,000 were to
be found in neighboring countries, especially Thailand,
while the rest would be created domestically. However, during 2007-2008,
the government was able to create barely 40,000 jobs domestically and 8,000
abroad. Of the 8,000 workers who were sent to work abroad. 1,000 of them have
been returned by Thai employers who said the workers lacked the skills they required.
The concern for finding employment for Lao workers in
Thailand is further augmented by the fact that the Thai government
has decided to limit the number of legal foreign workers from Laos, Myanmar and
Cambodia, to no more than 800 thousands beginning next year, to reserve jobs
for Thai workers due to the impact of the global economic crisis. Thus job
opportunities for Lao workers in Thailand will inevitably become more scarce.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.