Caritas Cambodia Profile

Cambodia is located on mainland Southeast Asia between Thailand to the west and north and Vietnam to the east and southeast. It shares a land border with Laos in the northeast. Cambodia has a sea coast on the Gulf of Thailand. The Dang Rek Mountain is range in the north and Cardamom Mountains in the southwest form natural boundaries.

Cambodia is located on mainland Southeast Asia between Thailand to the west and north and Vietnam to the east and southeast. It shares a land border with Laos in the northeast. Cambodia has a sea coast on the Gulf of Thailand. The Dang Rek Mountain is range in the north and Cardamom Mountains in the southwest form natural boundaries.


Cambodia has the youngest population in South East Asia with those aged 15 to 30 years of age comprising 33% of the population of 15,458,332 in which 7,965,755 are female (Cambodia Demographics Profile 2014).

Secretary of state Ministry of Women’s Affairs; Chair of the Cambodia COMMIT Taskforce; the Royal Government of Cambodia: Cambodia is found as a source, destination and transit country for trafficked persons. Many thousands of Cambodians move overseas, or to different regions within Cambodia, for the purpose of obtaining employment, accessing education, connecting with family members, avoiding natural disasters and others. Instead of finding what they are looking for at their destination, many Cambodians find themselves subjected to exploitation.

Cambodia now experiences significant internal and cross-border trafficking, and is a country of origin, transit and destination. Some commonly cited causes to explain the emergence and detection of human trafficking in Cambodia include the arrival of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC); uneven economic development from the influx of foreign currency; corruption; discrimination and gender inequality; increasing scarcity of productive agricultural land; natural disasters; debt pressures; inadequacy of safe and legal avenues for migration; and increased tourism (UNIPA report).

A. Problem Statement and Justification

Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to force labor and sex trafficking. Cambodian men, women, and children migrated to countries within the region - primarily Thailand and Malaysia, but also Singapore, Taiwan, Macao, Vietnam, South Korea and other countries - for working as factory worker, agricultural plantation, house work, construction, or other industries, but many of them are subsequently subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, debt bondage, or forced labor within the fishing and seafood processing, construction, food processing, and agricultural industries. Men have been trafficked to force labor in the agriculture, fishing, and construction industries while women have been trafficked to sexual exploitation and force labor in factories or as domestic servants and children have trafficked to sexual exploitation and forced labor in organized begging rings, soliciting, street vending, and flower selling and etc.

1. Migration and trafficking

Since 2014, we found that the number of trafficked people (victims/survivors) returned from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Africa and others have increased and base on the information from Cambodia Government Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Social Affair and from NGOs Networks. Below are some figures of returnees especially from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia:

In July 2014, there were over 250,000 Cambodians deported from Thailand by Thai Authority, among of them is estimated that there were at least 30% Cambodian trafficked persons and some of them were worst cases, where migrants were deceived into the worst labor conditions with no freedom of movement and no pay.

From January to July 2015, there were 172 trafficked victims deported from Thailand (report from Ministry of Social Affair, Poi Pet Transit Center Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Integration). Most of them lack of assistance and reintegration support due to fund allocation of the Transit Center and then, the Ministry was call for more coordination response from NGOs in reintegration process and support Transit Center for identification process.

From January up to August 2015, there were over 400 Cambodian fishermen victims of trafficking were deported from Indonesia and the majority of them are illegal migration. Most of them experiences at least 2-4 years worked as fishermen in the sea and they come with nothing (no any payment from the employers) but they came with both spiritual and physical problems.

Caritas Cambodia in coordination responds with Samaritan’s Purse, Catholic NGOs, IOM, WVC, CWCC, CCPCR, CLEC, LICADO, CARAM Cambodia, Chab Dai Cambodia and Ministry of Interior did a lot on emergency support and integration process with including need assessment in collaboration with IOM. (See the results of join rapid assessment of IOM and Caritas in Annex 3).

Large numbers of victims and trafficked persons were not assisted in the reintegration process:

Assistance was often indicated as being integral to the recovery and reintegration of victims and trafficked persons. It was common for victims and trafficked persons to be assisted in returning to their home provinces and communities, but this assistance only consisted of being sent home(cloths, meals, transportation, temporary shelters, sanitation kits and etc) without any further support or follow-up.

Most of the victims really need the support for rehabilitation after integration such as income generation activities and vocational skills development both in community based and in center based and immediate job opportunity and etc...Even though they have received some support and assisting from different institutions but they are limited. Therefore, we should consider more on a part of reintegration assistance not only return assistance. Moreover, we found that the victim/trafficked persons are still in vulnerable condition and they will turn to be trafficking again if no anymore intervention and support.

Majority of victims and trafficked persons were lack of providing as individual support after they have been integrated.

Many NGOs tried with their best to offer a standard package of assistance to all victims/trafficked persons. However, those services and supports were not yet sufficient and responded to their needs. There were many factors that contributed to the lack of individual assistance. Through individual family need assessment we found that some key issues we have to more focus such as economic needs, Skills training, health service, legal and administrative…etc.

Economic assistance was the primary need of the victims/trafficked persons after they returned homes. Most of victims/trafficked persons need to work and earn money to support themselves and their family members and also to redress economic problems that resulted from being trafficked while some need immediate generate their household income for reimbursement of their debts because of they borrowed money from their relatives or money lenders and or micro finance institutions for migration. Many victims/trafficked persons were unable to work after trafficking because of illness or unable to find job. Economic empowerment project were well designed and implemented directly for individual’s opportunities to restore their normal living condition based inside their community or their neighboring community.

However, most of victims/trafficked persons are low education and lack of professional capacity and skills which caused them have no self’s confidence. The vocational skills development project will provide them a professional skill which they could be able to use their skills to generate household income for improving their families living condition as well. Hence, vocational skill development is one of important project to contribute and force migration.

Victims/trafficked persons had a wide range of health problems and medical needs. Male and female victims, as well as adults and children regardless of the form of trafficking suffered, although often health needs were specific to the nature of exploitation. When victims/trafficked persons have physical unwell/poor health condition and medical problems had a lot of negative impact on many aspects of their life but most significance on economic problem including debt, inability to work and on sense of well-being. So, when the victims/trafficked persons received medical care, this was the key to their recovery and reintegration success.

2. Key Finding after join assessment with IOM and National Employment Agency:

Less than a quarter of respondents migrated legally with a passport and work permit. However the majority of migrants interviewed migrated without a passport or work permit and worked in Thailand illegally.

Most of them came back with nothing along with bringing with hopeless, unhealthy and illness and etc.

Some of returnees had re-migrated again and again with illegally and face with unsafe migration to Thailand, Korea and others countries due to lack of job employment opportunities inside the country.

Some of returnees have integrated themselves into communities and lived with their families who have no land and lived with heavy debts. They still face with lack of job opportunity and lack of income because they were not capable to start their own business. Therefore, they really need assistance support both technical and financial.

Some of returnees need to build their own skill but they have no opportunity to access to vocational skills training because of they are poor and vulnerable, so they really need help and support.

Reasons for migration -More than two thirds of respondents migrate to Thailand to search for better jobs and earn higher salaries compared to Cambodia where there was a lack of jobs and secure income. Reasons for migration were also related to financial debts- 40% of migrants stated they were migrating to pay of financial debts.

More than three quarters or 80% of respondents worked in the Construction and Factory sectors in Thailand. Half worked in Construction.

When asked if they will migrate again to Thailand -75% confirmed yes they plan to return to Thailand to work with at least two thirds planning to return within the next 6 months. Among those that plan to remain in Cambodia about 19% claimed they were staying because they had found a local job in Cambodia.

Among those migrants who planned to return to Thailand 50% are planning to migrate through a private recruitment agency- 33% through their own local arrangements, 15% through a broker (presumably a informal or unlicensed broker).

More than two thirds of migrants are aware of the new passport regulations ($49 package) announced by the Ministry of Labour and more than 79% hope to apply.

Currently, the migrant’s top concerns are income and employment to support themselves and their families. In terms of assistance 81% of migrants interviewed need help finding a job.

Caritas Cambodia

Address: #47, St. 198,
Sangkat Boeung Pralith,
Khan 7 Makara, Phnom Penh
Postal Address: P.O. Box: 123,
Telephone: +855 23 210 757
Fax: +855 23 216 258