Vietnam deputy foreign minister in UK to facilitate identification of trafficking victims

By Viet Tuan   November 3, 2019 | 07:34 pm PT
Vietnam deputy foreign minister in UK to facilitate identification of trafficking victims
Police move the container truck where 39 dead bodies were discovered in Essex, U.K., on October 23, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Hannah McKay.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung left for the U.K. Sunday night to help with identifying Vietnamese victims in the Essex truck tragedy.

He is leading a delegation that will collaborate with U.K. police and other authorities to expedite identification of the 39 victims found dead in a refrigerated container truck in the U.K.’s Essex County last month.

Information about the trip, ordered by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, was announced Sunday after a cabinet meeting chaired by Deputy PMs Truong Hoa Binh and Vu Duc Dam.

A delegation from the Ministry of Public Security had already left for the U.K. on Saturday.

Vietnamese authorities have taken action as soon as an announcement was made by the U.K. police early Saturday (Hanoi time), saying they believed the 39 victims were Vietnamese nationals.

On October 23, U.K. emergency services had discovered the bodies of 38 adults and one teenager, suspected immigrants, in a refrigerated container truck at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex County, east of London.

U.K. police initially believed all of the dead persons were Chinese nationals, but retracted it later as reports surfaced saying several victims may be Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese embassy in the U.K. is coordinating with relevant authorities in both countries to help the families of the victims take their bodies home.

PM Phuc offered his deepest condolences to the families of the Vietnamese victims in U.K. truck tragedy Saturday morning. He instructed the public security and foreign ministries to send officials to the U.K. to work with local authorities on the matter.

Phuc also ordered authorities in Vietnam to provide support to the victims' families to help them cope with their loss.

Last Friday, police in Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh said they have arrested two persons after 10 families complained that their children had gone missing in the U.K. after the tragedy.

Nineteen other families in nearby Nghe An and Thua Thien-Hue Provinces have also reported their children having gone missing in Europe around the time of the disaster.

Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old truck driver from Craigavon in Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and other offences including conspiracy to smuggle people.

Three other people arrested in connection with the investigation have been released on bail.

The Public Security Ministry had earlier collected DNA samples of the people who had reported missing children to send to the U.K. to help identify the 39 dead people.

Vietnam reported 490 human trafficking victims last year.

Some 70 percent of Vietnamese trafficked to the U.K. between 2009 and 2016 were linked to forced labor, with young people made to work in cannabis production and nail salons, according to a 2018 British government report.

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