UK envoy vows to fight human trafficking as victims’ remains fly home

By Phan Anh   November 27, 2019 | 04:32 am PT
UK envoy vows to fight human trafficking as victims’ remains fly home
Ambulance cars carry bodies of Vietnamese victims in the U.K. truck disaster from Hanoi to their hometown in central Vietnam, November 27, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
British ambassador Gareth Ward vowed action against human trafficking as he commiserated with families of victims whose remains are being repatriated.

"Today (Wednesday), the first victims have been repatriated by plane from London and are now en route to their home provinces. I hope that this can bring some small comfort to their families and loved ones," Ward said in a video message in Vietnamese on the U.K. embassy’s Twitter account Wednesday.

"This is a very difficult time, but I promise the families and Vietnamese people as a whole that we will continue to boost the cooperation between the U.K. and Vietnam to prevent human trafficking and protect vulnerable people here.

"Human trafficking is an international problem that requires us to work together to solve it. We will continue working with the Vietnamese authorities to investigate the criminal acts that led to this tragedy," Ward said, adding that he would visit affected communities to express his condolences and reinforce the U.K.’s commitment to prevent similar incidents in the future.

As of Wednesday morning, the remains of 16 of 39 Vietnamese citizens killed in the U.K. truck tragedy last month were repatriated.

The 16 victims were natives of the central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh. The remains of the other victims will be sent back to Vietnam in later trips, but the specific timeline has yet to be announced.

Earlier this month, authorities released the identities of all 39 Vietnamese killed in the truck disaster. The youngest victim was 15 years old and the oldest 44.

Most of the victims, 21, were from Nghe An, 10 from Ha Tinh, and the rest from Quang Binh and Thua Thien-Hue Province also in central Vietnam, and Hai Duong Province and Hai Phong City in the north.

The Vietnamese government had decided to make advance payments to make sure the victims are brought home as soon as possible. It costs $1,771 to receive the victim's ashes and $2,855 for the bodies to be brought back in coffins, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

U.K. police have arrested seven people for their involvement in the truck disaster. In Vietnam, police have arrested 11 people in Nghe An and Ha Tinh for suspected involvement in human trafficking.

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