70 Vietnamese flee illegal facilities in Cambodia

By Thanh Danh, Ngoc Tai, Chien Khu   September 20, 2022 | 07:03 am PT
70 Vietnamese flee illegal facilities in Cambodia
Consul General of Vietnam in Sihanoukville Vu Ngoc Ly and five members of a group of 70 Vietnamese escaping from illegal labor facilities in Cambodia, September 18, 2022. Photo by the Consulate General
Almost 70 Vietnamese citizens have escaped several “illegal facilities” in Cambodia with support from the Consulate General of Vietnam in Sihanoukville City.

A representative from the consulate said the escape happened Sunday night after staff at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh received a text message from one person in the group asking for help. The group were working in several facilities in Sihanoukville’s Chinatown.

A screenshot of messages between the representative and the group of Vietnamese people shows that they reached out for help at 6:56 p.m. last Sunday and provided their location in the Chinatown.

Evaluating that the situation was not too dangerous, the consulate representative, who wanted to remain anonymous, instructed the group to flee on their own.

"Cambodian authorities have been strongly cracking down on establishments using illegal labor in Sihanoukville City," he said.

"As the Vietnamese group was quite large and they all stayed at the same place, the people who run the facilities did not dare to do anything as they could not confront dozens at the same time, especially when there were some brave Vietnamese people in the group."

Around three hours later, the group informed the representative that nearly 70 of them had successfully escaped in two groups, but some of them were still stuck.

At 10:11 p.m., the group said they were all safe and asked for help to get back home.

The consulate had the group taken to the Moc Bai International Border Gate in the southern Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh. The escapees reached Vietnam that night.

Five of them missed the bus that night and were sent to the consulate office to rest for the night. They were sent home the next morning via the border gate in another southern Vietnamese province - Kien Giang.

On Monday, border guards in the southern province of An Giang bordering Cambodia received 44 Vietnamese citizens handed over by Cambodian authorities.

Most of them were illegal workers at casinos in Cambodia.

This marked the third time this year that An Giang border guards received Vietnamese people returning from Cambodian casinos. A total of 111 Vietnamese people have been rescued from the casinos so far this year.

According to a source from the Vietnamese Consulate General’s office in Sihanoukville, there are about 200-300 cases of Vietnamese nationals being held by Cambodian authorities, pending settlement of procedures to return home. These people have just been rescued from illegal establishments.

On Saturday afternoon, over 50 Vietnamese workers fled a casino in Cambodia's Svay Rieng Province near Moc Bai border gate and were held by Cambodian authorities.

On August 18, 40 Vietnamese swam across the Binh Di River to escape from the Phoenix casino in Cambodia to Vietnam's An Giang Province.

One of two other people who had also attempted to escape – a teenage boy – drowned in the river, while the other was captured by the casino people.

In most cases, the Vietnamese said they were held and made to work against their will at illegal facilities in Cambodia and subjected to torture. Some said they’d been tricked and sold.

In the first half of this year, the Ministry of Public Security has busted several rings smuggling people to Cambodia for illegal work.

Authorities have also rescued hundreds of Vietnamese citizens and supported thousands in Cambodia fulfil procedures to return home.

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