Thailand experienced the highest number of casualties among foreign nationals during the unexpected killing out by Hamas gunmen on October 7, which caught Israel by surprise.
As of October 23, 30 Thai workers were reported dead, 18 were injured, and 19 were assumed to have been taken hostage. This tragic incident has left many concerned and saddened by the loss of life and the impact it has had on the affected families and communities.
- The high number of Thai migrants killed in the Hamas attack on Israel highlights the stark income inequality in Thai society that forces poor people to seek risky job opportunities abroad.
- Inadequate wages and limited job opportunities in Thailand’s provinces push many Thai workers to migrate to Bangkok or seek employment overseas, such as in Israel, where the income is higher.
- The Thai government should focus on addressing income inequality, expanding the middle class, and providing opportunities for decent jobs at home to discourage workers from seeking employment abroad in risky environments.
The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in the evacuation of thousands of Thai farm workers who were employed in Israeli farms. These workers, who send money back home to support their families, are being forced to leave due to safety concerns.
According to the Labour Ministry, there are approximately 30,000 Thai migrants currently employed in Israel’s agricultural sector, with 5,000 of them working in close proximity to the Palestinian Gaza strip. They are part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries, which allows Israel to recruit workers from Thailand to fill labor shortages in sectors that Israelis are reluctant to work in.
The Thais are attracted by the relatively high wages and the opportunity to send remittances back home. Many of them come from poor rural areas in Thailand, where they face limited economic prospects and social mobility.
The Thai government has been trying to provide support and protection for its citizens working in Israel, especially during times of crisis. It has dispatched officials and volunteers to visit the affected areas, provide humanitarian aid, facilitate medical treatment, and arrange repatriation for those who wish to return home. It has also urged the Israeli government to ensure the safety and welfare of the Thai workers, and to hold accountable those who violate their rights.
While commendable, it is important to note that these efforts alone may not be sufficient in tackling the underlying issues that stem from the structural inequalities present within Thai society.
A reflection of inequality in Thai society
The high number of Thai migrants killed in the recent attack by Hamas militants in Israel reflects the inequality in Thai society. Many of these workers come from the poorest region of Thailand and take on risky assignments abroad because they cannot find decent jobs at home.
Thailand is a country where the rich and the poor live side by side, often in stark contrast. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is one of the most pressing issues facing the nation, as it affects social cohesion, political stability, economic development and human rights.
The government should focus on expanding the middle class and providing opportunities in their homeland to discourage workers from seeking jobs overseas. The unequal development between Bangkok and the provinces also contributes to the migration of Thai workers.
Income inequality has been too high in Thailand for decades
The lure of higher income in countries like Israel attracts them, despite the risks involved. Income inequality has been high in Thailand for decades, with the richest group having significantly more wealth than the lower and middle classes. The unemployment rate is low, but many Thais seek jobs overseas due to low-paying opportunities at home.
According to the World Bank, Thailand has the highest level of income inequality in Southeast Asia.
The richest 10% of the population earn 35% of the total income, while the poorest 10% earn only 2%. The Gini coefficient, a measure of income distribution, has increased from 0.43 in 1992 to 0.48 in 2018, indicating a worsening of inequality.
The causes of inequality in Thailand are complex and multifaceted, but some of the main factors include:
- – Unequal access to education and health care, especially in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
- – Unequal distribution of land and natural resources, which favor large-scale agribusinesses and investors over small-scale farmers and indigenous communities.
- – Unequal participation in political and economic decision-making, which marginalize the voices and interests of the poor and vulnerable groups.
- – Unequal impact of globalization and market liberalization, which expose the low-skilled and informal workers to greater competition and insecurity.
To address the issue of inequality in Thailand, there is a need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach that involves all stakeholders, such as the government, civil society, private sector and international partners.