Guwahati: As Thailand, Malaysia along with some other countries under the southeast Asian region have faced an upsurge of Covid-19 infections, a group of Parliamentarians came out with an official statement urging the concerned government to adopt more inclusive measures to protect everyone without discrimination.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), in a statement issued from Jakarta on Monday, argued that many governments in the region excluded migrant workers from the benefits of public health policies leaving them to struggle sedulously to survive under the corona pandemic.
“We will never recover from this health crisis if we do not provide care for everyone, including all migrants. Government policies must ensure that they have equal access to immediate aid, testing, treatment, and vaccinations, without fear,” said Mercy Barends, a member of APHR from Indonesia adding that the practice has affected over two million undocumented migrants in both countries. It may be noted that amid record highs of daily corona cases in Thailand and Malaysia, the migrants were disproportionately affected.
Widespread infections were found among migrant workers due to overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions that increase the risk of novel coronavirus infection spreading. By then many migrant workers lost their jobs and faced severe financial crises resulting from a shortage of food and other amenities.
“The governments in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur must include migrant workers in social protection measures on an equal basis as those of its citizens ensuring that criteria for accessing essential services are not based on nationality, citizenship or immigration status,” said the APHR statement adding that the corona infected migrants should be treated immediately and all others vaccinated early.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in last month, announced the closure of camp sites for construction workers until the end of July. Later his labour minister declared that the Thai government would stop proactive corona testing and healthcare assistance to migrant workers in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.
In Malaysia too, the migrants are facing similar obstacles to receive assistance, particularly while they face arbitrary raids, arrests and detentions by the authorities. As they get deterred from coming forward for testing, medical treatment, or to be vaccinated, the phenomena would likely result in an increase in undetected infections that can affect all communities later.
It is disgraceful that both the regimes are contributing to divisive anti-migrant rhetoric, for what appears to be political gain at a time when they are facing severe criticism for the failure to contain the spread of the virus, stated Teddy Baguilat, the interim executive director of APHR, adding that those policies and actions contribute to the increasing stigma and hate speech against migrants online and offline.