|Vietnamese citizens stranded in the UK helped with necessary procedures before the flight took off from Heathrow international airport, London, on July 12. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The foreign ministry has urged overseas Vietnamese wishing to go home to be cautious and only rely on official channels to get tickets for repatriation flights.
Spokesperson for Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the statement on Thursday during a press briefing held in Hà Nội in response to questions over reports of many Vietnamese abroad falling victims to scams as they were desperate to get home as COVID-19 pandemic situation in many countries have worsened.
The foreign ministry has discussed the issue with the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, the main operator of the special repatriation flights, Hằng said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, when the Vietnamese Government started to organise repatriation flights to bring back stranded citizens, Vietnamese diplomatic missions overseas have announced on their websites detailed information and necessary registration procedures to secure seats on these limited flights, Hằng said.
Vietnamese citizens wishing to go home must register with Vietnamese diplomatic missions in their host countries.
After consultation with Vietnamese domestic authorities, the missions will compile a list of eligible citizens for the flight and send emails to each successfully registered person with details on ticket purchase procedures, Hằng added.
“One piece of advice from us to all Vietnamese citizens abroad to safeguard their legitimate interests is that, should they wish to return to Việt Nam, they should adhere to the guidance of the diplomatic missions in their host countries, and only purchase the tickets when they have received an email from the diplomatic missions saying that they could now purchase a flight ticket,” Hằng said.
She also urged Vietnamese citizens abroad to report scams so Vietnamese authorities can handle the issue.
Since March 22, Việt Nam has sealed off its border to foreign arrivals as a result of the pandemic, with only a few exceptions applied, for example, returning Vietnamese and a limited number of highly-skilled foreign workers or foreign investors.
Also in a notice released the same day, Vietnam Airlines said all its genuine information is sent from emails ending with '@vietnamairlines.com' and citizens must not purchase the flights home from suspicious people or send money to personal banking accounts.
Flight details, ticket prices, payment manners and related information will be sent to eligible citizens from the diplomatic missions, the notice said.
Since April 10, 55 repatriation flights have been conducted, bringing home 13,323 Vietnamese citizens stranded overseas, the spokesperson said.
Vietnamese ministries and Vietnamese representatives overseas will continue to organise these flights, taking into account citizens’ requests and quarantine capacity in the country, Hằng continued.
Under directives from Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, priority will be given to the elderly, the sick, students without dormitories due to school closures or those who have completed their courses, labourers whose contracts have expired, or stranded tourists.
Việt Nam's COVID-19 situation remains largely under control currently, with no new domestic community transmission cases for three months now and zero confirmed deaths so far.
Stranded in Malaysia
Also during Thursday's briefing, the foreign ministry confirmed the report of 12 crewmen on MV Việt Tiến 01 ship stranded in Malaysian waters since March as Malaysia starts to impose movement restrictions to contain the COVID-19 spread.
The crewmen painted the letters “Help us. No food. No salary” on the side of the ship to ask for help after the vessel’s owner abandoned them, according to a photo from the National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia.
Hằng said the crewmen have not received their salary or any other allowances for food and living expenses since May 26.
“The crewmembers have requested the shipowner, Thuận Thiên Company, pay their salary and allowances, as well as make plans to bring them back to Việt Nam, however, the request went unanswered,” Hằng told the press.
The foreign ministry has ordered the mission in Malaysia to investigate the case and carry out citizen protection measures, she continued.
Thuận Thiên Company has been urged to carry out its responsibilities as stated in the contracts with its employees, Hằng said, adding that the company must pay the due salary and allowances, as well as fulfil requirements from Malaysian authorities to bring back the crewmembers.
The foreign ministry will work with its Malaysian counterparts if any issue arises with protocols involved in the repatriation, Hằng said. — VNS