|An official of Lào Cai Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs disseminates information about human trafficking prevention to ethnic minority people. VNA/VNS Photo
Vũ Thu Hà & Paul Kennedy
COVID-19 has changed everyday life as we know it.
The pandemic, which has raged to new levels in Việt Nam in the past four months, has crippled the economy, caused thousands of deaths, and brought the country to a standstill.
It has also had a serious impact on human trafficking.
On one hand, tightened security at border gates has restricted the illegal smuggling of people to neighbouring countries.
But it has also drastically limited opportunities for already impoverished people, causing many to look elsewhere to make a living.
This has led to heartless criminals targeting the most vulnerable with false promises of employment and wealth outside of Việt Nam.
For Blue Dragon’s dedicated team of people rescuers, accessing those trafficked abroad has been challenging due to travel restrictions.
Lê Thị Hồng Lương of Blue Dragon said: “Border closures and travel restrictions make it more difficult for Blue Dragon to rescue the victims.
“Those being rescued are often supported to go to school but due to dire economic situations, they cannot return to school, or attend vocational courses.
“Many victims that we have supported to go to work or study in restaurants and hotels, have also lost their jobs, affecting their social reintegration process.
“These, of course, also lead to the possibility of more human trafficking cases.”
Lieutenant Colonel Khổng Ngọc Oanh of the Ministry of Public Security said when restrictions are lifted, and travelling becomes easier, law enforcement agencies need to be on their guard against trafficking.
“Since the end of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the management and control of border crossings between countries more strict,” he said.
“The management of immigration has also been tightly controlled. Therefore, human trafficking crimes tend to cluster and have less favourable conditions to occur.
“On the other hand, it also shows that once the borders are reopened, regulations for immigration are more relaxed, and activities and entertainment establishments are reopened at home and abroad, human trafficking will easily reemerge in a more complex manner.
“Recently, there have been some cases of domestic human trafficking, but it is not enough to say that this number has increased.” VNS