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Vietnam, UK to closely cooperate on illegal migrations

The deal came as an increasing number of Vietnamese have unlawfully landed in the UK in recent years
A woman carries children on a bicycle in Nghe An province where families of missing Vietnamese migrants reside, on Oct. 29, 2019. Vietnam signed an agreement with the United Kingdom to strengthen collaboration on deterrence communication campaigns and outline a joint action plan to prevent vulnerable people and disrupt people trafficking.

A woman carries children on a bicycle in Nghe An province where families of missing Vietnamese migrants reside, on Oct. 29, 2019. Vietnam signed an agreement with the United Kingdom to strengthen collaboration on deterrence communication campaigns and outline a joint action plan to prevent vulnerable people and disrupt people trafficking. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 19, 2024 11:19 AM GMT
Updated: April 19, 2024 11:20 AM GMT

Vietnam and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement to tackle illegal migration as more and more Vietnamese migrants risk their lives crossing the English Channel.

The agreement was signed in London on Apr. 17 by Michael Tomlinson, UK's minister for countering illegal migration, and Senior Colonel Vu Van Hung from Vietnam’s public security ministry.

The two countries promised to strengthen collaboration on deterrence communication campaigns to stop dangerous journeys in small boats via the channel and outline a joint action plan to prevent vulnerable people and disrupt people trafficking, according to gov.uk.

Both sides will facilitate the process for the return of Vietnamese migrants with no right to remain in the UK, promote legal routes, and increase intelligence-sharing to tackle visa abuse.

The number of Vietnamese crossing the Channel more than doubled last year from 505 in 2022 to 1,323, England-based The Telegraph reported. The rise has continued this year to make them the biggest cohort of Channel migrants, by small boats packed with up to 20 people.

Mimi Vu, an anti-trafficking and modern slavery expert based in Vietnam, reportedly said some migrants would have paid £15,000 to £20,000 to trafficking gangs.

She said sky-high interest rates of 700 to 1,000 percent meant that migrants trafficked to Europe had just three objectives: to repay the debt, send remittances to their families and earn enough to live off.

Missionaries of Charity Sister Maria Tran from the north central province of Ha Tinh said many young locals who have no jobs and qualifications “risk their lives seeking illegal work in England and other European countries hoping to have a better life.”

Tran said many of them have to borrow from banks to cover their unlawful trips but cannot afford to return the debt as they have no regular jobs. Some even have to sell their body organs for survival.

She said others work illegally in restaurants and nail bars and even grow cannabis for a living. They remit money to repay debt, support their homes and build new houses, which inspire others to go to work abroad.

The nun said her two distant relations paid nearly £40,000 for their illegal trips to London four years ago. One of them works in a restaurant and the other catches earthworms for a living.

“They send money to support their families every three months but they have no clue about how their future will be because they are illegal migrants,” she said.

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