UK funds Vietnam awareness campaign on illegal migration

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The UK will provide GBP100,000 (US$150,000) towards raising public awareness among the Vietnamese people of the risks and dangers of illegal immigration and human trafficking, the British Embassy announced this week.

A contract to this effect was signed by the British Ambassador to Vietnam, Mark Kent, and the Director General of the Immigration Department, Col. Vu Thanh Binh.

The Immigration Department will work closely with relevant national agencies, the British Embassy and local and international experts to run an intensive information campaign throughout the country.

The campaign will include the production of a documentary on migration issues, distribution of leaflets to people at risk and distribution of a handbook to Vietnamese officials working on migration, labor and tourism issues.

"Migration remains high on the agenda of the UK Government and is a priority activity of the UK in Vietnam. While providing favorable conditions for legitimate travelers to the UK, we are also working tirelessly to prevent people from abusing our immigration rules by smuggling and/or trafficking people," British Ambassador Mark Kent said.

"We will not tolerate the abuse and exploitation of people, including Vietnamese, especially through forcing them to work in cannabis factories. The governments of the UK and Vietnam continue to work effectively together to tackle such abuse," he added.

In a recent statement to Thanh Nien Weekly, the British Embassy said many Vietnamese are likely to have been smuggled into the UK by clandestine routes and some will have fallen victim to human traffickers.

"Those who cannot afford the cost of their illegal passage to the UK, find themselves locked into impossible debt. This induces them to work in cannabis factories, which offer the promise of paying off their debts and making a bit of money in addition," the statement said.

However, these Vietnamese cannabis gardeners are invariably abused and never manage to pay off their debts, let alone make any additional money, it said, adding that even well qualified Vietnamese people like medical doctors have been found being exploited in cannabis factories.

In another effort to boost bilateral ties, director general of the Asia-Pacific Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of UK, Scott Wightman, who arrived in Hanoi early this week to promote the information campaign, also discussed with Vietnam's relevant ministries areas that include increasing bilateral trade to $3 billion, returning Vietnamese prisoners in the UK and maintaining security in the region.

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