About 1,400 Thais returning from Myanmar to be repatriated through Mae Sot

Thailand’s northwestern province of Tak is preparing for the arrival of some 1,400 Thai citizens, most of whom crossed the border illegally to work in casinos and entertainment venues in Myanmar’s Myawaddi Township, opposite Mae Sot district.

Tak’s Governor, Pongrat Piromrat, said yesterday that Myanmar officials told him that there are about 1,400 Thais stranded in Myawaddi and arrangements have been made for their orderly repatriation, to prevent them from sneaking across the border and possibly spreading COVID-19.

He said that the first 75 Thais returned recently and went through health screening, with 52 of them (69.3%) testingpositive for the virus.

These Thai people want to return to Thailand because they are now unemployed, after the closure of casinos and entertainment venues in Myanmar as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lt-Gen Apicheth Suesat, commander of the Third Army Region,met with Governor Pongrat and other agencies yesterday to discuss the repatriations and other relevant issues, such as illegal crossings by Myanmar citizens seeking employment in Thailand.

Troops have been deployed to reinforce the local security officials guarding the porous border.

Most of the casinos and entertainment venues in Myanmar are built and operated by Chinese businessmen. A huge and controversial development project, known as China Town, which features entertainment and gambling facilities, also funded by Chinese businessmen, is being built in Myawaddi.

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