By: DUMRONGKIAT MALA, from the Bangkok Post, 30 March 2018
More than 60,000 children living on construction site camps in Thailand struggle to access basic forms of assistance, a report by Unicef and the Baan Dek Foundation has found.
The report, “Building Futures in Thailand: Support to Children Living in Construction Site Camps”, highlights four main challenges affecting the well-being of migrant children living there:
Infrastructure: A lack of appropriate facilities, with many sites lacking adequate toilets and safety zones for children. Facilities are also not separated by gender, putting children at risk of sexual abuse.
Rights: An increased risk of social exclusion, discrimination and exposure to neglect and violence, with nine out of 10 children reporting that they have either witnessed adults fighting or have experienced some form of physical violence from their parents or guardians.
Health: Inadequate access to healthcare, with one in five parents saying that some of the children in their families have not received basic vaccinations and nearly half saying that some of their children do not have an active health card.
Education: Some 90% of children living in construction site camps are not in school, and barriers to education include frequent relocations, not being aware of their right to education, not understanding the language of instruction, and the costs of attending school that are not covered by the government.
‘Although Thailand has laws and policies in place that aim to allow every child in the kingdom, including the children of migrant workers, to have access to basic services, in practice, many obstacles remain,” said Unicef Thailand representative Thomas Davin.
Mr Davin said real estate and construction companies should do more to improve infrastructure, rights, health and education for the children living in their camps.
Such steps would not only benefit children but the companies themselves in terms of brand perception among investors and improved labour retention and productivity.
Nicola Crosta, founder of the Baan Dek Foundation, said companies should provide safe spaces and improve waste management at construction projects.
It should also help children access a formal education, vaccines and healthcare.
“By making these improvements, this sector has the opportunity to set new norms that will benefit generations of migrant children. Although some companies have already adopted these initiatives, we need the whole sector to come together to improve the basic well-being of these vulnerable children,” said Mr Crosta.