Vietnam's embassy in Ukraine has started to evacuate nearly 300 Vietnamese from Donetsk due to the national government’s plan take back the rebel-occupied city in what many anticipate to be a bloody siege.
Cong An Nhan Dan Online news website reported that the embassy has asked Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Transport to help evacuate any person in need.
The news website reported, Tuesday, that several Vietnamese students have been brought to Kiev in the past week, and offered places to eat and sleep by community evacuation officials from Vietnam's embassy.
Many businesses and shopping malls owned by Vietnamese expatriates in Kiev have helped shelter the refugees.
Some Vietnamese families have also sent very young and elderly to stay with relatives living outside of the eastern conflict zone.
Nguyen Phuong Thao, a community official from the embassy, said the first Vietnamese evacuees were mostly women and children as men tried to stay behind to protect the family’s property for as long as possible.
Vietnamese women who are married to local men, like Ngo Ngoc Anh, are remaining in place at their husbands' requests.
Nguyen Hoang Anh, a Vietnamese man living in downtown Donetsk, told a Dan Viet reporter that everything seemed normal as of July 15, except for the strict security protocols on travelers in and out of the city.
Anh said his sister Nguyen Hoang Ha living in the outskirts described constant gunfire at night and many of her neighbors cannot sleep.
Vietnam's ambassador to Ukraine, Nguyen Minh Tri, has visited the evacuees and called for all Vietnamese to leave Donetsk as soon as possible, noting that the conflict could escalate in unpredictable and complex ways.
Pro-Russian militants declared the small region an independent state (the Donetsk People’s Republic) last April. The Republic has not been recognized by any foreign country and has been classified as a terrorist organization by the interim government in Kiev.
The separatists said they would occupy the city until a referendum is accepted or the government in Kiev resigns.
Around 10,000 Vietnamese are living, working and studying in Ukraine. Many of them are students studying Russian and exported laborers.