Human Trafficking on the Rise in Vietnam Amid Covid

Despite Vietnam’s borders being closed amid the pandemic, traffickers and smugglers have found new ways to transport people not only within the country but also across borders, they added.

Michael Brosowski, co-founder of the Hanoi-based Blue Dragon Foundation, a child relief organization, said most of the trafficking cases he has dealt with involve ethnic minority girls and women.

Clusters of Covid-19 infections have erupted in the northern industrial province of Bac Giang.

Brosowski said there have been reports of teenage girls being trafficked into karaoke bars, which are allegedly the facades of brothels.

“The karaoke bars serve the workers in these industrial areas and this is also where Covid-19 took off, so I think there is a link between the two crises and it shows the need for better regulation. large industrial sites like these, ”Brosowski said. Told DW.

China and Myanmar traffic routes

Brosowski said that even though Vietnam’s borders have been closed, trafficking and smuggling still occurs to neighboring China.

Last year, more than 70 people were rescued by Blue Dragon from China. The organization celebrated its 1,000th rescue in January. Chinese and Vietnamese authorities have cooperated in rescuing and returning trafficking survivors to their hometowns.

According to local Vietnamese media, economically troubled pregnant women entered China illegally with the help of smuggling networks. Their babies are then sold.

Brosowski said that while China has increased its community surveillance systems in recent years, authorities have found people who were trafficked 10 to 30 years ago.

“We recently dealt with a situation where someone was trafficked 20 years ago and was probably a teenager at the time, and in those cases that survivor will need pretty intensive care for a long time,” Brosowski said, adding that girls and women from Vietnam continue to be trafficked into China as future brides.

According to Brosowski, the military takeover in Myanmar has made the Southeast Asian country a hotspot for traffickers due to the alleged lack of law enforcement.

“The traffickers are directly exploiting the chaos of the military takeover, so this is a new development we are dealing with.”

Prevent human trafficking

Diane Truong is Director of Communications at the Pacific Links Foundation, an anti-trafficking organization that also works with the reintegration and empowerment of survivors.

“We are very focused on empowering women and youth and we see trafficking as a development issue,” said Truong, based in California. DW.

Truong said Vietnam’s most vulnerable communities are essential in preventing trafficking. The foundation offers online English courses, summer camps and scholarships for disadvantaged youth from poor communities.

“We run trainings with schools, factory workers and their managers, and we also have an app we launched specifically focused on migrant workers that helps them make better decisions in life,” Truong said. .

Vietnamese smuggling networks in Europe

Truong said the foundation is also dealing with the trafficking or smuggling of Vietnamese throughout Europe.

The German capital Berlin has been an important center for the human trafficking and smuggling network.

In March last year, German police carried out a series of raids across the country as part of a crackdown on a gang of suspected Vietnamese smugglers.

During the crackdown, police issued 13 arrest warrants and took six suspects into custody. They are wanted for the trafficking of at least 155 Vietnamese to Germany since 2018.

People were first transported from Vietnam to Eastern Europe. From there they were transported via various routes to Berlin as well as through Germany and to other countries including France, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The smugglers reportedly received between $ 5,000 and $ 20,000 for each smuggling operation. The smugglers kept people in a network of shelters until they paid the cost of the flight and the visa.

“Of course, the other thing we have been working on is our capacity building training in Europe, so training frontline workers, including law enforcement and social workers, and working together to support potential victims, ”Truong said.

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