Dozens of Thai workers in Uzbekistan worried about COVID-19 were told to be patient and stop threatening extreme measures to try and pressure the government into bringing them home quickly.
According to local media reports, Thai migrant workers in the central Asian nation are worried about health and safety conditions in their camp amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some reportedly said they were “separated” from another group and have not yet received medical attention. They told local media they want to return home as soon as possible.
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Cherdkiat Atthakor, on Tuesday said a total of 101 Thai workers are stranded in Uzbekistan, and the government is working to bring them home, despite the international airport there still being closed.
Regarding the “separation”, Mr Atthakor said 27 of them tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be quarantined. He urged the remaining 74 workers to remain calm and comply with disease control regulations.
Recently, the Royal Thai Embassy in Moscow reported a group of Thai workers in Uzbekistan planned to set fire to their work camp and live stream the event in a bid to pressure the Thai government to expedite their repatriation.
The embassy then issued a statement on Facebook, on Monday warning the workers they could face between 10 to 15 years in an Uzbekistan prison for arson if they did so.
“We warn you for the last time you are wrong in thinking that pressure like this will help you return home sooner,” the statement said. “On the contrary, you will be the last person to return to Thailand.”
“Instead of going home soon, you will spend time in a local jail for 10-15 years,” it added.
The embassy noted if the workers acted impulsively, the Uzbek government could reject Thailand’s request to bring the workers home.
The embassy reiterated that international airports in Uzbekistan are closed, but diplomats were working with the Labour Ministry to repatriate citizens.
It also said the migrant workers should be patient and keep abreast of updates from the embassy.
“We are working hard to find the best, fastest, most economical transportation for Thais wanting to leave Uzbekistan,” it said.
“We beg you to think of yourselves. Do not destroy your chance to go home and be reunited with your family in Thailand,” it added.
“You only need to wait just a bit longer until we can find a way to bring you home.”