All 39 victims of the refrigerated truck in Essex came from central Vietnam. For Fr Nguyễn Đình Thục, “young men and women think that by reaching countries like the United Kingdom they can save their parents from debt.” Many have been forced to emigrate for taking part in environmental protests.
Nghệ An (AsiaNews) – The main factors driving young Vietnamese towards illegal migration are unemployment, debts, sick elderly parents, and persecution, this according to Fr Nguyễn Đình Thục, vicar of Song Ngọc parish (Diocese of Vinh), in Nghệ An province, north-central Vietnam.
Four days ago, British authorities confirmed that all the victims came from Vietnam. Reports in the international media and the UK’s Vietnamese community say that the migrants came from central Vietnam. About 29 of the 39 people who died in a refrigerated lorry found on 23 October in Essex (south-east of England) came from that area.
So far, British police have identified 11 bodies. Eight victims came from Ha Tĩnh province, one from Quảng Bình and another from Thừa Thiên. All these young people were unemployed and forced to live with their parents, Fr Thục explained.
"In central Vietnam, many families are forced to borrow money to build their homes or pay for medical expenses,” the clergyman noted. “For this reason, young men and women think that by reaching countries like the United Kingdom they can save parents from debt. Instead, they become even more indebted.”
"In this part of the country, the population is growing, but there is less and less farmland. State companies buy the land at bargain prices to build infrastructures and undertake projects that are not feasible.”
“The notorious Formosa environmental disaster of 2016 also left tens of thousands of fishermen unemployed. Provinces like Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh do not have businesses that can create jobs for young people.”
Fr Thục laments that people are forced into emigrating because of the authorities’ crackdown on environmental activists.
"In addition to the lack of livelihood, many people have been forced to flee Vietnam for taking part in protests against Formosa in Ha Tành province and other harmful projects. Several young people have left the country to avoid being arrested, trapped and sentenced to prison.”
Several of the victims in the refrigerated lorry were Catholic. Priests, believers and religious are providing support to their families. Prayer vigils, Masses and torchlight processions have been held in several villages in the Diocese of Vinh in memory of those who died.
Many in the community continue to believe that the tragedy in Essex will not stop human traffickers.
"Several families told me that their children have gone to the United Kingdom hiding in containers, but they have been unable to contact them since they left,” said Fr Anton Đặng Hữu Nam, vicar of M Khánh, speaking to Reuters. “From what I know, there are over 100 people making such a trip.”