International migration in Thailand 2009, Relief Web

A major new report on international migration in Thailand commissioned by the UN Thematic Working Group on Migration and published by IOM was launched in Bangkok today.

The report, which follows an earlier work published by IOM in 2005, was compiled by Dr Rosalia Sciortino and Dr Sureeporn Punpuing of Mahidol University’s Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR) and looks at international migration trends and issues currently affecting Thailand and neighbouring countries.

Its objectives are primarily to review and analyze recent trends; to identify gaps in existing knowledge; to provide input and ideas for Thai policymakers; and to make recommendations on the effective management of international migration in Thailand.

“As the most prosperous country in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, Thailand hosts over two million migrants from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia – many of them undocumented and working illegally. While making a major contribution to the Thai economy, many lack adequate social protection and face exploitation by unscrupulous employers,” says IOM Thailand Chief of Mission Monique Filsnoel.

Large numbers of Thais also work abroad, over 160,000 of them as “Overseas Thai Workers” through officially sanctioned labour migration schemes, mainly in East Asia and the Middle East. While many earn enough to send remittances to families back home, others face much of the same social and economic exclusion experienced by foreign migrant workers in Thailand.

Thailand has also played an important regional role in the protection of refugees over the past 30 years, most recently through sheltering some 150,000 displaced people from Myanmar in camps on the Thai-Myanmar border. Over the past three years the Thai authorities have worked closely with IOM and its UN partners to resettle nearly a third of these people to third countries.

“Thailand has made major advances in international migration management through agreements with its neighbours in recent years. But much more needs to be done at both national and regional levels to optimize the contribution of foreign migrant workers in Thailand and that of Thais working abroad, while protecting their fundamental human rights,” says Filsnoel.

“This report provides policymakers with the data and reasoned analysis they need to inform public debate and develop humane policies that combine economic optimality with internationally accepted human rights standards,” she notes.

“Better policies and programmes will not only impact the lives of millions of migrant workers, their families and others seeking refuge in Thailand. They will also benefit their Thai hosts, enhancing their contribution to the Thai economy and Thai society and showing that migration really can be for the benefit of all,” she adds.

To download a copy of the report in English and Thai, please go to:

For more information please contact Chris Lom at IOM Thailand, Tel. +66.819275215, Email: