This migrant woman locks the village gate shortly after receiving food handouts in Phop Phra district on May 1, 2020. The closure of villages along the Thai-Myanmar border, the measures to tackle the outbreak of the Coronavirus has caused Myanmese migrant workers to be unable to do farming and to live without a job. With the decline in the Thai and worldwide economy, businesses and factories have closed and migrant workers have been among the first people laid off. As Thailand has entered the worst economic recession in its history, migrants who normally work for daily wages are facing tough times. After Thailand announced an Emergency Decree to control the outbreak of COVID-19 in late March, the country closed its borders, leaving millions of migrant workers stranded in the country. Some workers were later able to head back across into Myanmar but many are still in Thailand, trapped without jobs and few options to help them get by. Myanmar migrant workers in northern Thailand are among them. These workers are also faced with the challenge of overcoming local language barriers. Many lack the technical and computer skills to access useful information and guidance or support. They have limited rights to access government social welfare schemes, including those intended to help people through the coronavirus crisis. Their lives hang on uncertainties.
Jittrapon KAICOME is an independent photojournalist based out of Chiang Mai, Thailand. His projects focus on countries in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia. His works highlight current affairs, environmental crises related to climate change and the struggles of marginalized communities including ethnic groups and displaced persons along the Myanmar-Thailand border. Jittrapon’s works have been published by Le Monde, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, Agence France Presse (AFP), Agencia EFE, National Geographic Thailand, and among others.