Myanmar migrant workers work abroad to feed their families. Now they can’t send the money home

“I left him with my mum,” stated the Myanmar migrant employee, 26, who is residing in Thailand.

Every early morning, long lines of individuals wait on hours outside banks and ATMs throughout Myanmar. Withdrawal limitations have actually been topped at about 200,000 kyat ($120) per consumer each day and some have actually even lacked money as individuals stop transferring cash due to security issues.

“Normally, when I send money back home my family is able to get the cash out the next day,” Su stated. “But lately the internet is not working and it’s difficult to get the money out, and we do not feel we can trust the bank, either.”

Su and Zaw, migrant workers in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2021.
Su and her spouse are amongst the 1.7 million Myanmar nationals operating in surrounding Thailand, according to the Migrant Employees Group, and part of an important network of abroad employees who support loved ones in the house. The International Labour Company (ILO) approximates some $1.4 billion was sent out to Myanmar in 2015 from abroad employees.

The existing scenario has actually left countless migrants living with consistent concern not simply for the monetary well being of their enjoyed ones, however for their security. More than 860 individuals have actually been eliminated by security forces given that the coup and more than 6,000 jailed, according to the Help Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Su’s mom informs her not to stress, as the combating is not extreme in their town. “But they have to be careful,” Su stated. “They no longer sleep soundly and barely go out.”

Yet without cash to stock food or medication, laying low long-term will not be simple.

“I want to be based back in Myanmar to work, as we have so many difficulties working in other countries and I want to live with my family back home, too,” she stated.

However she is terrified about what might take place if she and her spouse, Zaw, 30, who likewise operates in a Bangkok factory, did return. “If we try to go back they will arrest us even if we are not involved in politics,” she stated.

Zaw mentions the torture of enjoying, from a range, while his nation churns in chaos as the Myanmar armed force, the Tatmadaw, continues its ruthless crackdown on anti-coup protesters. “I can’t go back and fight,” he stated. “Even if I don’t mind risking my life for the next generation, I want real democracy in my country.”

Increasing hardship in Myanmar

Prior to the coup, Christina’s older bro would normally send out house from Thailand as much as $240 a month, which his household of 10 counted on for food and medication. All that stopped after the coup when banks close down.

Christina, who is utilizing a pseudonym for security factors, stated the household needed to leave their house in Mindat town, in Myanmar’s southern Chin state, when battling begun there. Now, it is not just food they require.

“Because we are in a place where there are no doctors and nurses, even for headaches we are struggling to buy medicine because it’s been a few months,” she stated.

They are likewise not able to return house to plant brand-new crops they count on for food and to offer, so the next couple of years will be challenging, she stated. They are presently residing in a camp for internally displaced individuals.

As bombs rain down on Myanmar's hotbeds of rural resistance, tens of thousands flee to the jungle without food or water

Wai, who likewise utilizes a pseudonym for security factors, stated his bro is operating in Thailand and utilized to send out $150 to $180 a month house to his senior mom who lives alone in her town. She utilized it for medication as he stated her health is stopping working. Wai stated his mom had actually been conserving a few of the remittances, however in a month her reserves will be diminished.

“Since I have family, I cannot support her as well. My brother cannot send money. So mum is using her savings to feed herself and is having to borrow from other family members in the village,” Wai stated.

“I sell food at the factories and we were OK before the coup. But after the coup, most factories are closed, and I couldn’t sell anymore. So, we are struggling. So, I asked my brother to send me some money. He said he will. But since we couldn’t receive from here, our family is in trouble, too.”

A report released by the United Nations at the end of April approximated as much as half of Myanmar’s population might be residing in hardship by early 2022 due to “compounding negative shocks.” The report discovered 83% of Myanmar’s families reported their earnings had, usually, been cut practically in half due to the Covid pandemic.

That scenario has actually worsened given that the coup.

Frightened for households’ security

Ma Oo has actually been residing in Thailand for twenty years, assisting migrant employees safe documents to work lawfully and promoting for their rights. Her kids studied in Thailand, and now work in the nation. However she frets for the rest of her household who stayed in Myanmar’s Shan state.

Her father, she said, worked as a public relations organizer for the National League for Democracy (NLD), the democratically elected party thrown from power by the military coup. Ma Oo assumes her father was arrested, but even now, four months on, she does not know for sure.

“The military detained everyone connected with NLD. I lost contact with my father as soon as I heard about the coup. I am worried for my whole family as all of us are involved in the party. My father got arrested twice in the 1990s for being involved with NLD and now we assumed that he got arrested again as we have lost contact with him.”

Not knowing the whereabouts or welfare of household members caught up in the military junta’s crackdown is traumatizing for those unable to return home.

Ma Oo, migrant rights advocate in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2021

Kyokyani, 35, works in a bakery in Bangkok. His wife works in a textile factory but he stated his 85-year-old mother is too frail to join them from her village in Myanmar’s Mandalay region.

Kyokyani, who also wants to be identified by one name for security, said his older brother was recently jailed by security forces and held for three days. “The military is pressuring our village because of the protests and they wanted to arrest the protest leaders. But they couldn’t find them, so they arrested my brother,” he said.

“I am very sad and worried about my family,” he said, adding that most of those living in villages are daily wage laborers and struggle to make ends meet. “I cannot go back and help them and that makes me worry about them even more.”

Kyokyani said business dropped when Covid hit and he couldn’t send as much money home as he usually did. The coup has made things worse and he hasn’t able to send any money since the military seized power.

Even sustaining himself is challenging.

“There are fewer jobs here in Thailand and I still have to spend for my accommodation and food, so I cannot get paid as much as before,” he said.

Myat, a migrant worker in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2021.
Fellow migrant worker Myat fears for his family’s safety. His relative worked at a gold mine in southeastern Kayah state where 11 workers were reportedly killed in a military airstrike at the end of March.

He said his relative was not working that day however questions why the miners were targeted at all. “I can’t stand it. They are innocent people from the forest. I don’t think they even have internet, so they wouldn’t have known what’s happening,” he stated.

Staring at a photo of one of the victims on his phone, he stated: “I’m worried not just for my family but for the whole country. I’m worried for everyone because they are killing youths. The youth are the future of Myanmar, but they value them less than animals.”

For Su and Zaw, whose 7-year-old is still in Myanmar with his grandparents, thinking about what type of future he has, without remittance money in a country turned upside down is almost too much to bear.

“I am very worried about my child, as a mother. We heard the military is taking people around our village for forced labor especially, the boys and men, so they cannot sleep peacefully at night,” Su stated.

“I miss my kid. Because of the bad situation I cannot go back and see him. I am sad.”

Salai TZ and CNN’s Kocha Olarn contributed reporting.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.