Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 17, 3 November 2019

Human Trafficking across Europe: 39 Vietnamese found dead in a truck in the UK
Sukanya Bali

In news

On 23 October, a truck with 39 dead Vietnamese was seized in the UK. The truck driver and four others were arrested on charges of man slaughtering and human trafficking. The Vietnamese police had arrested two, for smuggling and illegal immigration. In the UK, the Essex police have started proceedings to extradite a man from Ireland. Robinson, who has been alleged to be a part of ‘global ring’ of smugglers, appeared in court in Chelmsford on Monday. 

Issues at large

39 Vietnamese (31 men and eight women) were travelling to the UK in search of better prospects. Earlier, the deceased was thought to be Chinese nationals. Europe has faced similar cases of man slaughtering and human trafficking. Under similar circumstances, in 2017, 58 Chinese, from south China suffocated to death in Dover, and in 2015, 71 migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan died in Austria. There are dozens of smuggling networks that facilitate illegal migration. They charge a fortune for smuggling people into the UK and other European countries.  

The container truck was suspected of moving across Europe back and forth, as indicated by the GPS. On 15 October, the truck crossed over into North Ireland, to the south of Dublin. From Dublin, it crossed to Dover in the UK and then to Calais in France on 16 October. Between 17 to 22 October, the truck moved across various cities. 

British, Chinese and Vietnamese government agencies are working together to investigate the gruesome incident.

In perspective

The incident is a shocker. Most victims are believed to be from Nghe An and Ha Tinh, the poorest provinces in Vietnam. Many flee due to poverty and to support their families, and pay large sums to traffickers to take them to Europe. They end up working for cannabis farms and are subjected to exploitation. Women are forced into sex work.   

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