Grassroots HRE, HREIB and MAP Foundation have continued to work together to provide emergency relief as needed, health education, counseling and referrals to state hospitals and legal assistance. It has been decided to continue the joint activities until the end of July to respond to conditions resulting from the tsunami.
At the same time, each of the organizations is developing their own long-term programs to empower migrant communities to address issues of well-being and rights.
As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Royal Thai Government is seeking to improve the situation regarding birth registration and education of migrants. Migrant families are now able to register the birth of their new born babies. As this is a new process and the hospitals do not have Burmese speaking staff, TAG has assisted in the process and to date six babies born since the new policy have been able to register for full birth certificates. With the birth certificate the migrants can pay into the health insurance scheme for their children.
Even five months after the tsunami, cases of migrants injured in the tsunami are still surfacing. One migrant had to have his legs amputated, after becoming infected. He had been hurt in the tsunami but was too afraid and isolated to seek health care. He was already in a very serious condition when the TAG team was informed.
During the month of May, TAG assisted 25 migrants to access health care at the local hospital. Health conditions included TB, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, accidents from construction site work and health problems as a result of the tsunami. All migrants with health cards were able to access the 30 baht health system, but without the support of the TAG team they had difficulty traveling to the hospital, speaking to the hospital staff and did not know that they could access health care for 30 baht.
TAG has been working in close cooperation with MSF Belgium who has also assisted migrants to access health care. TAG is particularly concerned about the frequency of premature birth and babies with low birth weight. This may well reflect a serious situation of malnutrition and stress among the mothers.
TAG and MSF have worked closely with Takuapa state hospital and the hospital is surveying the 30 baht health scheme, including migrants in the survey and is exploring ways of reaching out to migrants.
In some areas, migrants have still not received their health insurance cards. In some cases employers have been handed the cards and kept them, because they say the migrants have not yet repaid the cost of the card. This is against the law, and severely affects the migrants’ ability to access health care.
In May, TAG provided emergency relief to 783 migrants (468 men, 227 women and 88 children). Migrants needing relief are living in isolated rubber plantations and having just re-established their lives and starting work, but have not had enough money to survive the first month of work. In addition, when it rains they cannot collect the rubber and receive no pay. The relief is thus an emergency measure to allow migrants to set themselves up. Other migrants needing emergency relief at this point are migrants who have been recruited for the upcoming construction work, but whose employers have not yet been able to start the construction or pay the workers. Again the relief is seen as a stop-gap measure while work in the tsunami affected areas gets back to normal and the relief will stop when migrants are working and therefore should be receiving minimum wage and able to secure their own livelihood.
Migrants are being re-employed in the fishing industry and only need relief for the first week before they get back to their paid work.
TAG has consulted with employers and migrants to improve the sanitation in long-term sites. TAG has purchased 27 toilets and worked with the migrants on site to dig latrines and install the toilets. The toilets serve 531 migrants. TAG has also provided financial and labour assistance for the building of one water-well. This work will continue under TAG until the end of July, and if still needed, it will be continued by one of the participating organizations.
Migrants on rubber plantations have reported groups of Thai men, sometimes dressed in uniforms with guns, arriving at their living quarters at night and demanding all their money and belongings. One employer reported a case to the police.
TAG team has been trained on the new registration process and is distributing information and answering queries from migrants in the area. Of particular concern are those migrants who still do not have their papers from the last registration, because they were lost in the tsunami or their employers held the papers and disappeared, or their employers refuse to give them the papers. Although TAG assisted the re-issuing of temporary ID cards for 283 migrants, at the end of April the local government office told TAG to stop this process. Also of concern is the distance migrants in the area would have to travel to obtain their work permit, the office being in Phang Nga.
Grassroots HRE has opened learning centres for migrant children to provide an educational foundation for children of migrants.
HREIB is providing training in child rights and child-centred teaching techniques to volunteers at the learning centres for migrant children.
A health team is providing health education and counseling to migrants.
On 26 May 2005, MAP started broadcasts in Thai on Barn Nam Kem community radio station every day from 4pm – 5.30pm. The broadcasts are currently in Thai to introduce the local community to the situation for migrant workers. It will gradually become a bi-lingual broadcast to inform migrants of health and policy matters. Broadcasts have also been agreed with Barn Muang community radio station for three days a week.
MAP has opened an office and is developing a community resource centre in Laem Pakkarang and will start Women Exchange and Labour exchange activities to provide forums for migrants to discuss issues affecting them as women and as workers and develop strategies to address their own situation. MAP will provide legal counseling and legal assistance in cooperation with The Human Rights Sub-Committee on Ethnic Minorities, Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons, and The Law Society of Thailand. MAP can be contacted at email@example.com or for urgent issues relating to the activities in the south at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAG (Tsunami Action Group) for migrants would again like to thank everyone who has so generously donated and supported the work of TAG in the South. Due to the generosity it has been possible to continue the joint activities through to July and some of the individual activities will be supported by the remaining funds of our organizational donors. To contact TAG, please email email@example.com
Search the entirety of the site for resources or updates.