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Priest of Nghe An: Young Vietnamese Emigrate Due to Poverty and Persecution


Nghệ An (AsiaNews) – Unemployment, debt situations, elderly and sick parents, persecution: these are the main motivations that drive Vietnamese young people to illegal migration. This is stated by Father Nguyễn Đình Thục, vicar of the parish of Song Ngọc (diocese of Vinh), in the north-central province of Nghệ An. From this territory came 29 of the 39 people who died in a refrigerator truck, found October 23 in Essex, England.

Four days ago, the British authorities confirmed that all the victims of the tragedy were originally from Vietnam. According to information gathered by the international media and by the Vietnamese community in the United Kingdom, the group sought its fortune in Europe starting from the central regions of the country. Eight of the people who died in Essex came from the province of Ha Tĩnh; one from that of Quảng Bình and one from Thừa Thiên. So far, the British police have identified 11 bodies.

Father Thuc says that all these young people were unemployed and forced to still live with their parents. “In central Vietnam,” explains the priest, “there are many families forced to borrow money to build their own homes or face medical expenses. For this reason, boys and girls think that reaching countries like the United Kingdom can save parents. But on the contrary, they become even more indebted.”

“In this part of the country the population is constantly increasing. But agricultural land is less and less. State companies survey the land at bargain prices to build infrastructures and projects that are not feasible. In addition, the notorious 2016 Formosa environmental disaster has taken tens of thousands of fishermen off work. Provinces like Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh do not have entrepreneurial realities capable of creating jobs for young people.”

At the base of forced migration, according to the vicar of Song Ng sostienec, there is also the repressive policy of the authorities against environmental activists. “In addition to the lack of livelihood – he concludes – many people were forced to flee Vietnam because they took part in protests against Formosa’s activities in the province of Ha Tành and other harmful projects. Several young people have left their country to avoid being arrested, framed and sentenced to prison.”

Among the victims of the refrigerator truck were several Catholics. Priests, faithful and religious have gathered around their families. In recent days, prayer vigils, Masses and torchlight processions were held in several villages of the Diocese of Vinh in memory of their loved ones. But there is a widespread fear among the community that the tragedy in Essex will not stop human traffickers. Father Anton Đặng Hữu Nam, vicar of M Khánh, revealed to Reuters: “Several families told me that their children are headed to the United Kingdom hidden inside containers, but they have been unable to contact them since they left. From what I know, there are over 100 people making a similar journey.”