Vũ Việt Anh
Director General of the Việt Nam Consular Department Vũ Việt Anh speaks to the Thế giới & Việt Nam (World & Việt Nam) newspaper on the country’s resolve to protect its citizens overseas.
Can you tell us about the Consular Department’s work in 2018?
2018 was a year full of ups and downs across the world, in both traditional and non-traditional perspectives. As a result, they directly affected our mission to protect Vietnamese citizens abroad.
Many negative acts were reported in 2018, including terror attacks, armed conflicts and natural disasters. For Việt Nam, many of our fishing boats operating offshore encroached on foreign territorial waters, while some Vietnamese citizens illegally entered other countries. Adding to those issues, cases of Vietnamese citizens breaking the laws of the countries they were living in increased.
As a result, we have faced a lot of challenges. These include Đoàn Thị Hương who was arrested and brought to court in Malaysia, and 152 citizens who illegally entered Taiwan with falsified document papers in early December.
In all cases, the Consular Department has worked closely with agencies inside and outside the country to find the best solutions to protect our citizens.
In addition to such activities, our department has been proactive in launching communication campaigns to raise awareness among people and businesses on how to protect their own interests when they are abroad and to contact the Vietnamese office if they need assistance through the hotline +84981848484.
In addition, we also set up a fund to protect Vietnamese citizens and their legality abroad. So far, the fund has helped repatriate 380 Vietnamese citizens who were in distressed situations.
Will you please tell us some of the outstanding achievements/challenges that the Consular Department faced in carrying out its missions in 2018?
Thanks to strong support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2018 was a successful year for the Consular Department. The department worked closely with Vietnamese agencies to protect the legitimate rights of Vietnamese citizens and legal entities operating abroad.
At present, Việt Nam has 94 consular offices overseas, and each office has between 5-7 staff who have to undertake their missions for at least one additional country that doesn’t have an office.
Their tasks are very demanding. In addition to handling the non-traditional security factors like terrorist activities, hostages, criminals and human trafficking, these offices have to handle cases of illegal Vietnamese immigrants, trafficking of women and children as well as illegal workers and fishermen illegally entering foreign territorial waters. These issues are also big challenges for us in 2019.
So what will be the focus for the Consular Department in 2019?
One of our key objectives in 2019 is to continue to act as a “firm base” for Vietnamese citizens. In short, the Consular Department has four mains tasks as follows.
First, to co-ordinate closely with all Vietnamese offices abroad to raise awareness to all Vietnamese citizens on what they should do in case they face any issues/problems.
Second, to be proactive in co-ordinating with agencies to revise Circular 92/TT-BTC on how to use the Citizen Protection Fund in the most efficient way.
Third, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to conduct a study on how to consolidate co-operation between different Vietnamese ministries, sectors and localities in solving any problems that may arise.
And finally, to share experiences with foreign counterparts on how best to protect Vietnamese citizens in the worse case that may happen. — VNS