Vietnam stops sending workers to Middle East amid US-Iran tensions

By Phan Anh   January 8, 2020 | 07:35 pm PT
Vietnam stops sending workers to Middle East amid US-Iran tensions
People join an anti-war protest in Iran, January 8, 2020. Photo by AFP.
The labor ministry ordered a halt to the sending of Vietnamese guest workers to the Middle East on Wednesday amid the growing U.S.-Iran imbroglio.

Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung instructed the Department of Overseas Labor Management to temporarily stop businesses from sending workers to the volatile region and suspend them if they fail to comply.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are becoming ever more complex, making it difficult to anticipate how things would pan out, Dung said at a government conference.

On Wednesday Iran fired 22 missiles at Iraqi bases used by the U.S. military, AFP reported. It comes days after the U.S. assassinated Iran's General Qasem Soleimani. The U.S. has claimed there were no casualties in the missile attack.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said overnight the strikes had "concluded" Tehran’s response to the Soleimani killing, and influential Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the crisis was over, Reuters reported.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," said U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that the U.S. does not need to respond militarily to Iran’s attack.

Dung said Vietnam's overseas labor department should stay updated and cooperate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take necessary measures to protect citizens in the area.

The foreign ministry has advised Vietnamese citizens to avoid visiting the Middle East amid the tensions.

The labor ministry is collating official information about Vietnamese workers in the Middle East.

The number of Vietnamese in the region has been fluctuating sharply in recent years, with businesses sending people to work abroad rarely updating data or reporting to official agencies, the overseas labor department said.

Most recent data from the ministry shows that there are 10,000 Vietnamese workers in the Middle East, mainly engaged in construction and domestic work.

Around 7,000 of them are in Saudi Arabia and 3,000 are in the UAE.

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