People buying food in a market in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with prices skyrocketing. — AFP/VNA Photo
HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese embassy in Sri Lanka is closely following the situation in the country and offering help to struggling citizens.
Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Phạm Thu Hằng made the remarks on Thursday during the regular press briefing in Hà Nội, in response to questions on the situation of the Vietnamese community in the South Asian country that is plunging into a deep economic crisis.
As developments in Sri Lanka grow complicated, the Vietnamese embassy has been requesting Sri Lankan authorities ensure the safety and security of the Vietnamese citizens there, Hằng said.
According to the embassy, there used to be about 300 Vietnamese citizens in Sri Lanka, but many have now returned home following the fallout of the worst economic trouble the island state has seen since its independence.
Vietnamese workers’ lives in Sri Lanka are heavily affected by shortages of gas, fuel, and electricity, as well as the skyrocketing cost of living, the deputy spokesperson said.
The embassy has been frequently visiting and offering necessities to the most difficult cases, organising gift-giving events, and encouraging the Vietnamese community to stay united and help each other get through the challenges, Hằng said, adding that the citizens have been informed of an embassy’s hotline in case of trouble.
Under the instruction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnamese embassy in Sri Lanka will keep in touch with its contact points in the Vietnamese community to plan and support people facing difficulties there, within its capacity.
Sexual assault case
At the press briefing, media agencies also requested updates on the two Vietnamese male citizens – allegedly notable artists Hồ Hoài Anh and Nguyễn Hồng Đăng – who are currently under investigation by Spanish authorities on charges of sexual assault against a 16-year-old British girl earlier this month in the resort island Mallorca.
The deputy spokesperson said the investigation is still underway.
The Vietnamese embassy contacted Spain's agency for foreign residence to request assistance in visa procedures for the stay of these two citizens (they have been released on bail).
Following the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the embassy is continuing to closely monitor the case, keep in close contact with local authorities and the citizens in question, and implement measures to support the citizens following the provisions of the laws of Việt Nam and Spain.
When asked about Hainan Province’s administration's announcement of a military exercise lasting from July 16-20 in an area that overlaps parts of Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel) islands, the deputy spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Phạm Thu Hằng said Việt Nam strongly opposes actions that violate Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the two islands – Paracels and Trường Sa (Spratly) – in the South China Sea.
Earlier on June 23, the spokesperson for the foreign ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng said that the military drill in the Hainan area, which also includes part of Việt Nam's sea and island territory that is under China's control after a violent seizure in the 1970s, “goes against the spirit of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicates the situation, is not conducive to the ongoing negotiations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), and does not help the maintenance of peaceful, stable, and cooperative environment in the South China Sea."
The spokesperson stressed that Việt Nam strongly opposes these actions and demands that China respects Việt Nam’s sovereignty and does not repeat such actions.
Press agencies also asked about the deal between Việt Nam and India on mutual logistics support signed during the visit of the Indian defence minister to Việt Nam last month, which would mean the two sides would be able to access military facilities for the exchange of fuel and provisions. The Indian press commented that this is the highest level of agreement that Việt Nam has ever signed with another country in this particular area, which holds significance for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.
Deputy spokesperson Hằng said that with the policy of peaceful self-defence, Việt Nam has had defence cooperation with many countries and “together we strive to contribute to peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and in the world.” — VNS