01 November 2007

Child labour on the Thai-Cambodian border

A young Cambodian girl queued up at the gate early morning waiting to cross the border.© UNICEF-Thailand/2007/Athit Perawongmetha

Story by Robert Few

ARANYAPRATHET, Thailand  – As the sun rises over the Thai-Cambodian border town of Aranyaprathet, it reveals a straggling line of desperate people queuing to cross from Cambodia into Thailand. Among them are thousands of children coming into Thailand to work as child labourers in Aranyaprathet’s Rong Glua Market.

Ragged, unwashed and ill-fed, they are fleeing abject poverty on the other side of the border to work for a pittance in the huge market’s sprawling stalls and hangars. Around 10,000 people are employed here every day until 8 p.m., when the border closes and most of them, including the children, stream back into Cambodia.