|Border guards of Long An Province patrol the border. VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
HÀ NỘI The complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cambodia and Thailand mean pandemic prevention efforts on Việt Nam's southwestern border areas need more focus than ever.
The southwestern provinces of Long An, Đồng Tháp, An Giang and Kiên Giang share more than 384km of border with Cambodia.
The Border Guard of Long An province manages 134km of the border line across 20 communes in five districts, with one town next to the border with one international border gate, one national border gate, and ten local border checkpoints.
In the border area of Long An, there are 36 fixed posts with more than 500 officers and soldiers on duty, six mobile patrol teams and three mobile working groups of nearly 100 people.
Their job is to patrol, protect the border and prevent illegal immigration.
|Soldiers patrol to protect the border and prevent illegal immigration. VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
From the beginning of 2021 to the end of May, the Long An Border Guard tackled 102 cases related to 158 illegally crossing the border.
Those 158 people were mainly Vietnamese nationals, Cambodians and Chinese people who were attempting to travel from northern provinces to Cambodia for work opportunities.
Authorities have prosecuted six cases involving 27 people on charges of illegal immigration and human trafficking.
A total of 953 people were also quarantined following investigations.
|A border checkpoint in Long An Province. VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
“We have prepared for a serious pandemic situation. We’re ready to repatriate Vietnamese-Cambodia and Vietnamese nationals who do business in two Cambodia provinces next to Long An by any means and the number of people is expected to be 50 up to 100 a day,” said Colonel Phạm Phú Phước, commander of the Long An Border Guard.
“In addition to strengthening border management and protection, preventing illegal immigration, we are mobilising all resources for key groups so the soldiers can stay there for a longer time.
“We will ask the Long An Provincial People's Committee to drill wells or provide tap water to all the posts, request the Department of Science and Technology to implement the project of lighting the border and instruct officers and soldiers to plant vegetables and raise cattle to ensure their nutrition and health,” he said.
|Long An border guards raise people's awareness about prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic. VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
According to Col Bùi Trung Dũng, deputy commander of the Border Guard Command of An Giang, Vĩnh Xương and Tịnh Biên are the province's only two international border gates for Vietnamese people to enter and for Vietnamese-Cambodian people to return to Cambodia.
"We can't quarantine them all," Col Dũng said.
“If there are too many people returning, we won’t have time to make a medical declaration and they cannot be put in the current isolation group."
Col Dũng added: “To do that, we must have a separate area or have to set up a place or camp in that particular area for them to declare and provide medical reports."
|Soldiers checking border marker 189 in Long An Province. VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
Tây Ninh shares more than 240km of border with three provinces of Cambodia, namely Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng.
Since the pandemic in Cambodia became complicated, the Border Guard Command of Tây Ninh has directed all units to strengthen border management and protection, strictly control border areas and roads, trails and openings to prevent illegal immigration.
Border guards and other local forces have been mobilised and are used to living in poor conditions in mobile groups and checkpoints over the past year to minimise the risk of another pandemic outbreak. VNS